Facial expressions are essential in human communications. Without saying a word, we can signal to those around us to our emotional state—ranging from joy to sorrow—just by flexing a few facial muscles. Such expressions have evolved to help us form bonds, avoid danger and cooperate.
According to the results of a study published in Current Biology, dogs can read this silent method of communication and can distinguish between our angry and happy facial expressions. Tell me something new – most dog owners knew this already!
A Tight Bond between Man and Dog
Dogs and humans share a tight historical bond, which is why animal researchers from the University of Vienna focused on us for their research. Dogs are already known to be expert at reading us. We know that they can identify familiar faces – even if just part of the face is shown in a photograph. Whether they can actually read human emotions, however, was not proven until now
This seems to be the first time that researchers have shown that one animal species can recognise the emotions of another.
More research is planned – experiments with puppies could help us understand whether reading human facial expressions is something dogs learn as they mature, or if it’s something passed down in the genes.