Your Dog is Yawning Along With You

A new study reveals canines' capacity for empathy with their human counterparts

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Here’s further evidence that dogs are the perfect companions: they feel our fatigue.

According to a new study, when your dog sees you yawn, he will feel the pain of your exhaustion and, sharing the burden, will often respond by yawning along with you. In other words, your dog gets you.

A Japan-based team of researchers studied 25 dogs of various breeds, and found that they were more likely to emulate yawns when they came from their owners rather than strangers. And the majority of the pups didn’t react to fake yawns, suggesting that they could even discern when their owners were genuinely fatigued and when they were just faking.

(PHOTOS: Pups on Parade: Behind the Scenes at the 2013 Westminster Dog Show)

“Our results show that the emotional bond between people and their dogs is reciprocal,” Teresa Romero, an animal behavior researcher at the University of Tokyo who conducted the study, told NBC News in an email. “This attachment can shape the dog’s responses in a way similar to humans, that is, to be more sensitive to a familiar yawn than to a stranger.”

The researchers made sure to factor in the subjects’ heart rates to determine whether or not the dogs’ responses were coming from a place of distress rather than empathy. But the pups’ and the humans’ heart rates all remained stable throughout the experiment. So, next time you let out a big yawn, check and see if your canine companion yawns along with you. If he does, remember: this means he gets you.

MORE: The Secrets Inside Your Dog’s Mind