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Natural World

Dogs able to read happy or angry expressions

February 13, 2015 | Comment icon 29 comments



Dogs are surprisingly good at determining how you feel. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Bodlina
A new study has confirmed that dogs are adept at reading the emotions of their human owners.
Most dog owners would agree that their canine companions are well aware of how they feel, but now scientists have determined that dogs are far better at reading human facial expressions than we have previously given them credit for.

Biologist Corsin Muller and his colleages at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna conducted an experiment in which they trained 11 dogs to touch either a happy or angry face on a computer screen in return for a treat.

Each of the dogs was shown either the top or bottom half of a face, each exhibiting a specific emotional expression that the animals would be attempting to identify through simple observation.
The results showed that the dogs were able to successfully pick out both the happy and angry faces, even though it took them a little longer to identify the angrier faces than the happier ones.

The researchers believe that their ability to do this stems from the amount of time that they spend with humans which affords them ample opportunity to observe our emotions and expressions.

The greater awareness of happy over angry facial expressions could also be attributed to the negative association of anger with a lower chance of positive contact with their human owners.

Source: National Geographic | Comments (29)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #20 Posted by Atuke 7 years ago
After five minutes of owning a dog one can see this.
Comment icon #21 Posted by mbrn30000 7 years ago
You're right, FLOMBIE. I have 4 cats, and I'm convinced that 2 of them even understand what I'm saying. For example, I can tell my youngest female cat to go lay in her chair, and she does it probably 7 times out of 10. She knows which chair is "hers". Also, I can ask them if they want to go out, and they'll head for the door, even if I'm upstairs in my condo. they all understand you but the other two don't care. Dog's are loyal and Cat's demand loyalty. lol. jk. there is an old joke...A dog thinks, he takes care of me, feeds me, plays with me, boy I have a good master...the cat thinks, he take... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by Silver Surfer 7 years ago
Wow a new study has revealed what everyone already knew. Slow clap.
Comment icon #23 Posted by Red Moon 7 years ago
I can tell when a dog is happy or sad.
Comment icon #24 Posted by Lilly 7 years ago
I wonder if they tested humans to see how well they could read a dog's emotions from a snapshot how well they would do. IMO most humans would not do as well as their dogs. Only people who have stepped back from what they think they know and learned how to actually 'read dog' (aka dog whisperers) would do well.
Comment icon #25 Posted by Nnicolette 7 years ago
I'm more impressed that the dogs were asked to point out both happy and angry faces and knew the difference in what they were being asked to do. They seem to have more cross species understanding than these scientists providing such useful newsflashes everyone with a pet already knew.
Comment icon #26 Posted by CrimsonKing 7 years ago
I'm more impressed that the dogs were asked to point out both happy and angry faces and knew the difference in what they were being asked to do. They seem to have more cross species understanding than these scientists providing such useful newsflashes everyone with a pet already knew. I agree,when my dog was a little pup i used to sit around making several grunting sounds just goofing around and think i maybe accidently said something in dog language not even meaning to. Now days when he wants something he will sit down right in front of my recliner making similair sounds changing the pitch of... [More]
Comment icon #27 Posted by Hawkin 7 years ago
that's why they can tell the sound your car makes, I couldn't agree more. When I had a Jeep Cherokee, I would be driving up the street to my house and my dog would run out of the doghouse to greet me. But when I bought a truck, My dog didn't do that until she got familiar with the sound.
Comment icon #28 Posted by regeneratia 7 years ago
I believe this. Got a best friend here who thinks he is neglected sometimes. And sometimes he is just talking in a language I can only quess at about what he needs and wants.
Comment icon #29 Posted by travelnjones 7 years ago
I mean Duh, they are way better than us, why do we give dogs so little credit.


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