Standup Pups

A large dog bends over to greet a smaller dog

You’d rescue a dog, but would your dog rescue you?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

We love our furry friends — SO much, we shower them with toys and clean up their messes! But doesn’t that relationship seem awfully one-sided? Would your puppy return the favor if it could?

Joshua Van Bourg and colleagues at Arizona State University put this friendship to the test. They wanted to know if these tail-waggers would help their owners out of a pickle.

The researchers recruited sixty adult dogs — pugs and poodles alike — along with their humans. The humans crawled into a mock cage, pretending to be trapped. It’s on Youtube! Just kidding. During one test, they called Fido for help. During another, they just read a book out loud.

Results? When their owners cried for help, dogs showed more stress — running, barking, and whining. They were also more likely to try to push open the cage door. Although, most just couldn’t figure out how. So dog-lovers, fret not: your pooch shows love for you too.

It’s the LEASH they could do!

Reference: Van Bourg, J., Patterson, J.E., Wynne, C.D.L. (2020). Pet dogs (Canus lupus familiaris) release their trapped and distressed owners: Individual variation and evidence of emotional contagion. PLOS ONE, 15(4).