Dogs Absolutely Love It When You Smile At Them

  • 20/10/2017

New research shows that dogs’ facial expressions change when humans look or smile at them.

It is thought to be the first study to establish clear evidence that dogs respond to human attention in what is believed to be an effort to communicate.

The study by scientists at the University of Portsmouth’s Dog Cognition Centre found that dogs respond with their classic ‘puppy dog eyes’ when humans are paying them attention, but are unlikely to change their expression for food.

A spokeswoman said: ‘Dogs don’t respond with more facial expressions upon seeing tasty food, suggesting that dogs produce facial expressions to communicate and not just because they are excited.

‘Brow raising, which makes the eyes look bigger – so-called puppy dog eyes – was the dogs’ most commonly used expression in this research.’

Dr Juliane Kaminski, who led the study, said: ‘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.

‘In our study, they produced far more expressions when someone was watching, but seeing food treats did not have the same effect.

‘The findings appear to support evidence dogs are sensitive to humans’ attention and that expressions are potentially active attempts to communicate, not simply emotional displays.’

For their test, researchers tied 24 family pet dogs by a lead a metre away from a person.

Their faces were filmed in various scenarios – when the person was looking at the dog, when the person was distracted, and when they turned their back on the animal.

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