If you are the happy owner of a dog, then you must be honest. Your dog has probably seen you happy, sad and angry. Maybe you already noticed that depending on your mood, your dog acts differently. A new study has shown that dogs look away when you are angry.
When it comes to humans, we learn from a very young age to read people’s faces. Depending on what they show us, we act accordingly and this happens to the dogs as well. Scientists believe that this human trait seen in dogs might be because they have a very long domestication history and so they lived close to the humans for such a long period of time, that they sometimes started to copy their owners.
A team of researchers from the University of Helsinki wanted to see the reactions of dogs to the human expressions. For their research they need 31 dogs that belonged to 13 breeds. The dogs were shown pictures of males and females and other dogs as well, each picture showing a different emotion. The researchers observed that when they were presented the picture, the dogs first looked at the eyes of the person. After they looked at the eyes of the person in the picture, they went on and looked at the whole face and tried to figure out the emotional message the persons were sending to them.
After they analyzed the behavior of the dogs, the researchers noticed that when they were shown pictures portraying angry persons, the dogs would look away. It is believed that this is a sign of submission. Another theory is that they feel threatened by the humans and they try to avoid conflict. Maybe this trait has helped the dogs develop such bonds with the humans. On the other hand, when they were shown pictures with angry dogs, the dogs spent a long time looking at the eyes and at the face. The study concluded that like humans, the dogs evaluate the eyes, the mouth and the other features of the face when they want to determine what mood is a person or another dog in. They don’t only look at one feature, but they look at more of them and then they try to put them together and figure out the mood. Also, the dogs have different reactions to the same moods expressed by humans and dogs.
The study which proved that dogs look away when you are angry was published in the PlosOne journal.
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