We all yawn when we're tired -- but for pooches, the move may be more than just an incredibly adorable sign of drowsiness.
Studies have shown that a pup's yawn can sometimes be a sign of stress, but it may actually be a sign of empathy too.
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Researchers at the University of Tokyo took a group of 25 dogs and had their owners and total strangers yawn in front of them.
Not only did the canine's "catch" yawns from humans, but they yawned more frequently when their owner did, suggesting the reaction is strongly impacted by deep emotional bonds.
Dogs obviously can't tell us about their emotions -- but since contagious yawning is a key sign of empathy among humans, many experts feel it's a great way to tell how Fido is feeling.
According to Dr. Brian Hare from Dognition, who is partnering with Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND to drive awareness of canine cognition, this behavior may have enabled canines and humans to form bonded groups as well, helping to secure precious pooches with the status of man's best friend they hold today.
So if you find yourself wondering if your favorite pup really cares for you, just stretch back and yaaaaaaaawn.
To celebrate Pet Appreciation Week from June 5 - 11 check out more of these fun facts about your favorite critters:
(Photo courtesy of Purina)
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