With the assistance of the digital age scientists are finding some revealing discoveries about facial expressions of dogs.
Domestic canines have been living with human kind for a long time now. Many people would admit that their dog could read them quite well. Then there are those cute expressions and ‘puppy eyes’ they give us when we have a tasty morsel on hand. Previous studies showed that a dog is more likely to steal food if their owners either had their backs turned or closed their eyes. Crafty aren’t they.
However, what scientists have now confirmed is that dogs actually alter their facial expressions when they have a human audience. In the British study, muscles and features in the dogs’ faces were measured. Regardless of whether food was on offer or not, when the demonstrator faced a dog, its facial expressions were significantly more active. Have dogs learned to use facial expressions as a communication tool? That wouldn’t surprise me at all. They’re smart and it doesn’t take them long to work out what presses our buttons. Humans too, are more likely to use expressive faces when communication with our own kind.
But are the changing facial expressions of dogs connected with emotion? Their emotion? It’s true they give clear signs with their faces as a method of communication (whether intentional or not) if dogs are amongst other dogs. But in their interactions with humans, especially the dog/owner relationship, I’d put my money on dogs replicating expressions that have paid off for them in the past.
Leah & Angela O’Meara
Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane)