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Drowsy Dogs

Photo By: recompose

When a person sees another person yawning, they are more prone to yawn as well. As it turns out, so are puppies. According to a new study, puppies are susceptible to human yawns as well!

Elaine Alenkær Madsen, PhD, and Tomas Persson, PhD, researchers at Lund University, have been studying the yawn contagion, specifically between different species. They were able to determine that puppies above the age of seven months were susceptible to yawning when a human yawned. But, they also found that the puppies under the age of seven months did not yawn when the humans in the experiment yawned.

These findings are similar to those found for human beings. Children only begin to become susceptible to yawning at around the age of four. These results help to prove that there is a general developmental pattern, concerning empathy, that is shared by humans and other animals. These results could help other researchers in discovering more about the developmental processes of human beings and other animals similar to them, like monkeys, apes and now dogs.


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  1. biorob

    Great article! I agree with what sciencegirl025 is saying about how some animals share similar instincts with humans. I also found that yawns are not only contagious with dogs but with other animals too. This article, that I found, shows that a human yawn can trigger yawns by other household pets, not just dogs. While the article does mention that dogs are a lot more susceptible to the “yawn trigger,” I am interested to see how other animals react.

  2. sciencegirl025

    Wow that is so interesting how dogs can share some of the same instincts or feelings that humans can. This research is definitely indicative of a connection between dogs and human beings. I read a great article about how the canine and human genomes are very similar, indicating that there must be a link between the diseases and maybe even the emotions and habits that both species experience: You should check it out! You can learn a lot about how genetically similar you might be to your canine friend!

  3. henroids

    Just reading about yawning caused me to yawn! It really is contagious. According to: yawning is a method for the brain to cool down. The research done by Andrew Gallup states that the brain stays cool through heat exchange that occurs in the air during a yawn. This means that people are more likely to yawn during the winter when the air is cooler. This makes me wonder if yawning being contagious is related to the temperature of the air or because of the mirror neurons that ilikebioha talked about, or could it be a combination of both?

  4. bg95

    In a way, this article relates to the article by rawgdog about the elephant who can repeat words of our language. This elephant has always been around humans in the same way that puppies are raised by humans. This could be a possible reason as to why these animals relate more closely to humans than other animals. Behavior such as imitation (the elephant) and empathy (the puppy) are illustrative of the adaptive qualities of animals who live amongst humans.

  5. ilikebioha

    I’ve always known yawning is contagious but I never new why. After looking at the link that saysquad shared and discovering that the cause for contagious yawning is
    “mirror neurons in the frontal cortex of certain vertebrates, which, upon being exposed to a stimulus from conspecific (same species) and occasionally interspecific organisms, activates the same regions in the brain. Mirror neurons have been proposed as a driving force for imitation which lies at the root of much human learning such as language acquisition” ,
    i am now curious as to why one human doesn’t itch their nose after another human does, or move their hair after seeing someone else move his or her hair.
    I also thought that it was cool that when autistic children were put in a yawn contagiousness test they did not increase their yawning frequency, which supports the claim that yawning is related to empathic capacity.

  6. saysquad

    Hirshybar, this article is really cool. I never knew that yawning was actually “contagious”. Here is some extra information regarding the science of yawning:

  7. sayrest4

    Nice article! I wonder how this plays into the theory that animals yawn to communicate with each other with each other. According to this theory ( yawning is a primitive form of communication used to calm a group or herd down after a high level of stress. It is also thought to be used to keep each other alert when fatigued, which is why we yawn when we are tired (

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