New study shows that dogs can read human facial expressions just as people do. They can sense if their owners are angry and they try to avert their gaze.
According to scientists, dog’s evolution is linked with their ability to make or avoid threats for their survival. However, their response towards their owner or humans in general is different. It was found that dogs respond differently to threatening expressions.
This fact depends very much on the expression’s origins; other dogs or humans. For this study, researchers trained 31 dogs to stand still in front of a video screen. Next, they displayed facial pictures showing various expressions on the screen for 1.5 seconds.
Dogs’ eye movements were tracked by the cameras near them. This showed that dogs looked angrier when they saw a threatening dog face. They lingered more on their mouth, maybe to make something of the threatening expressions.
However, when it was a human who made the threat, they tended to avert their eyes. The scientists believe this might be an attempt to pacify humans. As humans do, dogs can read human emotions from all facial characteristics.
Scientists claim that dogs’ impulses to look away when seeing threatening human faces is an evolutionary adjustment. Due to their domestication, they can bond better with people. This means that the dog became more sensitive in detecting human emotions.
As researcher Sanni Somppi says:
”the tolerant behavior strategy of dogs toward humans may partially explain the results.Domestication may have equipped dogs with a sensitivity to detect the threat signals of humans and respond to them with pronounced appeasement signals”.
Previous studies revealed that dogs’ attention can also be drawn by other familiar faces or interactions. As Charles Darwin said 150 years ago, humans and animals share an evolutionary root in terms of emotional expressions.
This is the first evidence of emotion-related gaze patterns in a non-primate animal, according to the researchers. Due to this study, people may change their opinion about dogs. Moreover, this shows that the dog is the only pet that can understand its master.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia