Talk about knowing how to get your needs met…a new study has discovered that dogs produce more facial expressions when humans are looking at them. What a great way to get attention–or treats!
Scientists at the University’s Dog Cognition Centre are the first to find clear evidence dogs move their faces in direct response to human attention. 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…Puppy dog eyes is a facial expression which, in humans, closely resembles sadness. This potentially makes humans more empathetic towards the dog who uses the expression, or because it makes the dog’s eyes appear bigger and more infant-like — potentially tapping into humans’ preference for child-like characteristics. Regardless of the mechanism, humans are particularly responsive to that expression in dogs…
“The findings appear to support evidence dogs are sensitive to humans’ attention and that expressions are potentially active attempts to communicate, not simple emotional displays.” -Dr. Juliane Kaminski, lead researcher
Journal Reference: Juliane Kaminski, Jennifer Hynds, Paul Morris, Bridget M. Waller. Human attention affects facial expressions in domestic dogs. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-12781-x