Dogs can understand human emotions, according to a new study conducted by New Zealand’s Otago University.

Researchers at the university tested 90 Dunedin dogs - showing some recorded images of babies laughing, crying and babbling and giving others verbal instructions from human’s displaying happy or stern expressions.

Researcher Ted Ruffman said that the dogs' responses indicated they could tell the difference between a happy and an angry person and a laugh from a cry.

“We know dogs are very good at picking up human gestures,” the AAP news agency has quoted Mr. Ruffman as saying.

“And it seems they are very good at picking up on human emotions, too," he said, adding dogs who saw the crying baby searched behind the television screen to ‘find’ the baby, cocked their head and expressed concern.

The aim of the study was to discover if dogs have a natural empathetic response to human emotion or if their reaction is based on positive reinforcements.

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