Dogs are man’s best friend; they are always around even when our friends aren’t, and they’re loyal to us their entire lives. We train them, and we play with them, and we keep them fed and comfortable.
But domestic dogs, just like people, can sense a person’s mood and may be able to tell when things aren’t right, according to a recent study published in Biology Letters. In addition to being able to read facial expressions and take clues from vocalizations, domestic dogs have become good at sensing moods in people and other dogs.
The reason for their ability to do this stems from a need of being able to recognize environments and adapt to social changes, an evolutionary trait. The ability helps domestic dogs keep long-term relationships with their masters and fellow dogs, as the study notes.
The study involved taking 17 adult dogs and presenting them with black and white photos of people and dogs with varying facial expressions while simultaneously playing audio tracks of varying degrees of vocal behavior. The researchers mixed and matches sounds and visuals to see how the dogs would react.
The results show that dogs would look longer at faces of people and other dogs when the vocalizations actually matched the emotions of the face being displayed. When the vocalizations didn’t match the emotions of the face being displayed, the dogs were more likely to look away, as if they knew the face wasn’t in agreement and that there was no cause for concern.
“Our study shows that dogs have the ability to integrate two different sources of sensory information into a coherent perception of emotion in both humans and dogs,” study author Dr Kun Guo from the University of Lincoln said. “To do so requires a system of internal categorization of emotional states. This cognitive ability has until now only been evidenced in primates and the capacity to do this across species only seen in humans.”
Can dogs actually tell how we feel? – There’s no concrete evidence to be able to say they can, but the results certainly look promising.
Source: Biology Letters