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Dogs Can Catch Yawns, Too

Taking a break from weighty stuff like finding a cure for cancer and the like, scientists have discovered that dogs, jus tlike humans, find yawns contagious:

A team from Birkbeck College at the University of London wanted to know whether canines - known to be highly skilled at reading human social cues - could read the human yawn signal, reports the BBC.

The team found that 21 out of 29 dogs yawned when the stranger in front of them had first. By contrast, no dogs yawned during the test where the person did not yawn.


this does work: I had a friend who would yawn to get her dog (black lab) to calm down around 8:00 each night... he dog would immediately start yawning, then go to his crate shortly after.
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I don't know about this understanding is that dogs yawn when they're anxious. I don't know who is interpreting what here: they might be just freaking the dogs out a little bit. As far as being the first study to show empathy in dogs, that's certainly not true. If they could proveably demonstrate self-awareness, that'd be something (not that I doubt it myself).

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Ok, so I know that scientists don't know exactly why we yawn, but one of the theory's about it being related to oxygen intake sounds pretty good to me. I mean, when you're tired your breathing becomes more shallow so you're getting less oxygen, and so you yawn. In a stuffy room full of people there's less oxygen and people start yawning (and feeling tired, but I think they're all linked). If you feel like you're going to yawn, a couple of deep breaths will stop the yawn from coming.

That makes sense to me.

But when you're looking at contagious yawning, wouldn't everyone be in the same room? And therefore affected by the same oxygen levels? It's not that I don't think contagious yawning exists, I'm just not sure I trust experiements where they heven't made mention of oxygen levels, and/or monitored the breathing rates of all involved.

Of course, I could be totally wrong :)
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You guys know that other sites are identifying this woman as a former beauty queen who kidnapped and raped a Mormon missionary?,25197,24144138-2703,00.html
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Dogs yawn because it's a pack behavior that relieves anxiety. Since you're part of their pack, if you yawn, they will also yawn...but not because it's contagious, they're telling you to calm down.

Perhaps humans did it for the same reason once, long ago, and the visceral memory remains.
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