Get rates for your pet:

See My Rates »
Retrieve a Saved Quote

Do Dogs Care If You Cry?

By Colleen Williams
published: September 13, 2018 - updated: April 25, 2022 • 1 min. read
do dogs care if you cry

In July, The New York Times ran the article Lassie Got Help, Would Your Dog? Which posed the question: how empathetic is your dog?

With help from animal behavioral scientist Julia E. Meyers-Manor, 34 dogs and video recorders, the study set out to see just how ready some pups were to help their guardians. They placed pet parents alone in a small room with a window and a magnetized door that could be pushed open easily, called a “trapped-other paradigm” which was taken from a previous study with rats. While some pet parents neutrally said “help” or hummed songs (part of the control group), others cried out or quite literally cried (in the distress condition group). The dogs’ behavioral and physiological responses were then recorded, including opening the door and even measuring heart rates.

Their findings? Most pups came to their pet parent’s rescue!

  • Dogs in the distress condition group opened at the same frequency, but significantly more quickly, than dogs in the control condition group.
  • In the distress condition group, the dogs that opened showed lower levels of stress and were able to suppress their own distress response, thus enabling them to open the door more quickly.
  • And of course, after watching the video, you’ll “never underestimate a pug.”

Read more about their study, Timmy’s in the Well: Empathy and prosocial helping in dogs, and check out the full video above. How do you think your dog would fare in the trial?

We love dogs like family (and we hope you feel the same!), so we take care of them like family. By enrolling in Healthy Paws pet insurance, you can save up to 90% on vet bills, which means never having to turn down crucial treatment or a life-saving procedure. Start by getting a free quote today.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

Show more