Dogs are able to recognize when we’re sad, happy or anxious by looking at our faces.
A new study that was published in the journal Current Biology reveals that dogs can tell the difference between emotional facial expressions in another species.
Dog lovers who own dogs know that their animals are experts in figuring out their moods.
The latest study suggests that dogs can tell human moods using their eyesight. They can tell how we feel depending on our facial expressions: whether we smile, scowl or frown.
For the study showing that dogs recognize human expressions, the scientists took pictures of a person and was told to make different facial expressions, ranging from happy to sad, to angry.
The team of scientists showed the pictures to dogs that were trained to differentiate between the sad, angry or happy expressions.
The dogs were then shown only the upper or lower parts of the photos and scientists saw that the animals did not lose their ability to tell which expressions they were looking at.
The scientists then showed the dogs photos of different people making happy or angry faces.
Corsin Müller, one of the scientists involved in the study, noticed that the dogs were able to select the angry or happy faces even after the researchers mixed up the photos.
Ludwig Huber, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna’s Messerli Research Institute, said that the study demonstrates that canines can distinguish happy or angry facial expressions in humans.
Huber added that the dogs can tell that each expression has its own meaning, and can do it not only for the humans they know very well, but also for faces that are unfamiliar.
Huber explained that the new study suggests that dogs have the ability of associating smiling faces with a positive meaning, while an angry face tells them something is wrong.
Researchers believe that because dogs are so close to humans, they have the capacity to understand us better than other species.
The scientists assume that other animals, like cats, can understand human facial expressions, too.
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