Believe it or not but the the wag of your dog’s tail isn’t the only thing that tells you they’re happy to see you. Your dogs face could be telling you a lot more than you think. Just like humans, Japanese animal behavior researchers have found that a dog’s facial expressions have been proven to show emotion.
Filming 12 dogs on high speed cameras, researchers from the department of animal science at Azabu University in Sagamihara Japan, recorded the pups’ faces when their owners or a stranger was revealed behind a curtain. Using colored tags placed strategically on each dog’s face, the cameras were able to track the movement of their facial features.
What they discovered amongst all the furry four-legged friends was that each pup would raise their left eyebrow upwards in the presence of a person, but more so when they saw their owners. However, when they were introduced to a stranger, they would then move their left ear back a bit. And if they were presented with an object they didn’t like, they would move their right ear slightly.
“It is difficult to explain this difference in movement between the ears and eyebrows,” said Dr. Miho Nagasawa. “Dogs’ ears are prominent features used to convey emotional expression, therefore our results suggest that dogs were more cautious toward unfamiliar people.”
What they also concluded was that the eyebrow movement could indicate a physical response that dogs attempt to show when they look at their owners intently. The slight changes of their eyebrows can also be a reflection of the activity in the key parts of their brain that control their emotions.
As far as that human-to-dog connection that most pet owners feel with their pretty pooches, it is in fact real.
Dr. Tina Bloom, from Walden University in Minneapolis, Minn., is one of a number of psychologist that have done early research to show how owners can feel and detect the number of emotions in their pet’s facial expressions.
Bloom has found that owner or not, people can detect if a dog is happy, sad, surprised, or frightened through their expressions.
She has found humans have developed a natural empathy towards dogs since they’ve evolved together for thousands of years, where as dogs have also been able to read the emotions of human faces and react to them as well.
So when you or Sparky are feeling blue and need a pick-me-up, don’t be surprised how your presence amongst each other can brighten each other’s day with just a smile or the raise of an eyebrow!
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