New studies say that crying dogs are more distressing than meowing cats and that they can even match the distress produced by a crying baby.
Listening to a dog cry is pretty heartbreaking, especially if you care for one. A new study says that for a large majority of pet owners, a crying dog is just as sad and distressing as a human baby.
Published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the study analyzed the responses of 500 young adults who were perversely made to listen to recordings of crying babies, whining dogs and meowing cats. These participants later documented their feelings and impressions of each sound.
The study reports that most cat and dog parents found the whining of dogs to be more alarming than meowing cats, probably due to the fact that cats are more self-sufficient and that they sometimes meow just because they want to. Dog owners were the most impacted by the sounds of dog whining, saying that these sounds were just as alarming as crying babies.
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“The result suggests that dogs, more effectively than cats, communicate distress to humans and that pet ownership is linked to greater emotional sensitivity to these sounds. For sounds that we need to respond to, like a dog that is utterly dependent on its human host for food and care, it makes sense that we find these sounds emotionally compelling,” said Christine Parsons, associate professor at Aarhus University in Denmark and also one of the authors of the study.
The sound of babies crying is one of the most distressing and hard to ignore sounds ever, triggering primitive parts of our brains and our flight or fight responses. The fact that dogs can trigger the same kind of response is surprising and proves how much we value their companionship.