New research looked into a pet characteristic that helps dogs communicate with people better. It turns out that our furry friends learned to make certain facial expressions to convey a message to humans.
Dogs Are Activating Facial Muscles in Response to Human Attention
On Thursday, a team of researchers at the University’s Dog Cognition Centre reported some intriguing findings in the journal Scientific Reports. This paper is the first of its kind that attests dogs are acting differently when humans are watching them.
Scientists observed dogs’ reaction when they were getting some really tasty treats when no human was around. The conclusion was that even though they are excited, dogs don’t react with happy expressions if no person is in the same room with them. However, they do move their facial muscles in response to human attention.
Dog cognition expert Dr. Juliane Kaminski is the lead author of the study. She claimed that their findings underline the existence of a newly discovered way through which dogs communicate with humans.
“We can now be confident that the production of facial expressions made by dogs are dependent on the attention state of their audience and are not just a result of dogs being excited.”
Dog’s Extensive Range of Facial Expressions Help Them Connect with Humans
The experiment involved 24 dogs of different breeds with ages between one and 12. All of them were pets with their own family of humans.
The first stage consisted of placing a person three feet away from a dog. While the human was going through a series of reactions, researchers measured dog’s facial expressions with DogFACS. This is a coding system that records facial changes in connection to muscle movement.
The second stage involved isolating dogs with only some delicious treats with them. As stated above, their range of expressions was highly smaller than when they were in the presence of people.
On the other hand, the study needs more efforts to understand what the source of this behavior is. Is it a hardwired response that dogs are born with after 30,000 years of living with humans? Or can dogs understand people’s state of mind?
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