Science has finally proven what dog owners have known for years: dogs can read our facial expressions to know what kind of mood we’re in.
National Geographic reports on a study that trained 11 dogs to select happy faces or angry faces on a touchscreen. To test the dogs’ ability to read subtle cues, they ran trials with just the top half of faces showing, testing the dogs’ ability to pick up on eye expressions, wrinkles, and more, and trials with just the left side showing. Each time, dogs were able to identify the desired expression.
This study validates what dog lovers have always known: Dogs are in tune with our emotions. Most of us have heard that dogs can smell fear, but now we know how they’re able to identify happiness or anger.
And that’s an important skill for a dog to have. Is now a good time to ask for a belly rub? Would it be better to just head to bed and chew on a toy by myself? Does someone need cheering up or calming down? Dogs base a lot of their behaviors on the people around them, so understanding our state of mind is a very useful ability for them.
Wonder how well your dog can read your expression? Try giving a command like “sit” with a variety of facial expressions, then see how your dog responds. Is his tail wagging more when you say it with a smile? Does he put his head down tentatively when you say it with a negative expression on your face? If not, don’t worry—your dog might be smart enough to know you’re faking it.
Continue reading: How To Read Your Dog's Body Language
National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150212-dogs-human-emotion-happy-angry-animals-science/
Geraint Rowland (photo credit): Geezaweezer