Friday, 13 February 2015

Dogs and our facial expressions

Probably any dog owner would say "Well..I could have told you that" but it is always good to read another scientific research article which proves us right (as this previous post did). 

A recent research study has shown that dogs can discriminate emotional expressions of human faces. The researchers performed a series of tests to show that dogs could accurately tell the difference between pictures of a happy and angry faces in humans not only for people they know well, but even for faces they have never seen before. 

They said that "It appears likely to us that the dogs associate a smiling face with a positive meaning and an angry facial expression with a negative meaning." Amazingly even when the research team tried to train dogs to choose a picture of an angry face, by tempting them with treats, the test dogs were reluctant to do so. 

The team sampled 24 dogs, mainly Border Collies and German Shepherds, in several behavioural tests with touch screens which the dogs could touch in response to an image of happy faces and angry faces. They were consistently able to differentiate between the two expressions.

The research team concluded that dogs probably use their memories of real emotional human faces to accomplish the task. 

There have been several research studies in the past few months showing the links between dogs and us, such as being able to determine the emotional tone, intonation and volume changes in human speech and how they interpret human commands which make great reading.  All of these studies assist in my reasoning that adding another tool into the bonding mix, namely massage and touch, can only help owner and dog become the best friends ever.  Incorporate a smiling face, soothing voice and touch into a daily routine and that's it....they will listen to you forever (unless you are 3 minutes late with their food of course but dogs being able to tell the time is another piece of research waiting to be done)

Listening to every word I say.....when they want to!


Appendix

Muller et al : "Dogs Can Disciminate Emotional Expressions of Human Faces" : Current Biology

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