Humans mimic each other's facial expressions, which helps people get along. Dogs do the same to bond with other dogs, researchers said.

According to researchers from the University of Pisa's Natural History Museum in Italy, the ability may have emerged in dogs during the process of domestication. Such behaviours have only been described in humans and non-human primates such as chimps and orangutans.

It is why humans automatically mirror a smile or a laugh, enabling the sharing of emotions, reports stated.

"We demonstrated that rapid mimicry is present in dogs and it is an involuntary, automatic and split-second mirroring of other dogs," said lead researcher Elisabetta Palagi.

Dogs show a basic form of empathy where they are able to instantly pick up on the emotions of other dogs through their facial expressions and body movements, she said.

The researchers videotaped dogs playing in a park in Italy. They analysed the way the dogs were interacting, including signals used to show when a dog was being playful, such as crouching or "bowing" down on its front legs, or relaxing its mouth to show some of its teeth.

The study was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

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