If You’re Happy And You Know It… So Does Your Dog!

Rachel Leavy
by Rachel Leavy
Yay Science! Now we have proof that our dogs recognize what it means when we smile (or frown).

Being a dog trainer, I see how dogs interact with their owners on a daily basis. I can tell how bonded a dog is with his owner, just by watching how they work together. Dogs are much more perceptive than we gave them credit for. They read our body language extremely well, and pick up on our tone, facial expressions and even our posture. In the past I have been able to pick up on certain things, for example if a client was stressed out, just by how their dog acted around him or her at the time.

Related: What Emotions Do Dogs Actually Experience?

Now, we have proof that dogs can tell the difference between our facial expressions. According to a recent study released in the Cell Press journal, Current Biology, 11 dogs were tested by being shown pictures of different expressions.

Related: Survey Helps Researchers Understand Why People Surrender Their Pets

Corsin Müller of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna in Austria designed the study using touch screens to ascertain if dogs could discriminate emotional expressions of human faces. The interesting part of the study was that the dogs were only shown parts of the face, and they still could differentiate the human emotional expression. The findings of the study showed that dogs have the ability to learn to identify facial expressions, and react accordingly to angry or happy faces. Müller plans to continue studying what dogs are capable of understanding, and also plans to test other species, such as cats and hand-raised wolves.

Studies like this are important for us to learn just how much our dogs understand. If we know how they perceive us, we can make great leaps in how we train them. From my neck of the woods, I can see these advances being a great help in rehabilitating fearful or aggressive dogs. I look forward to seeing these advances continue so everyone can realize just how intelligent their furry best friends are.

[Source: Science Daily]

Rachel Leavy
Rachel Leavy

Rachel Leavy lives in Rochester, New York with her dog, Maria, and her gecko, Nigel. She has loved animals all her life, and has owned her own dog training and walking company for five years. When she's not playing with puppies, she can usually be found writing short stories, riding horses or out at a play.

More by Rachel Leavy