Dogs Know The Difference Between Happy And Angry Faces
A new study suggests something dog owners have long suspected – our furry friends really can tell the difference between angry and happy human faces. According to a study published in Current Biology, dogs may have learned to recognize human’s emotions during the process of domestication.
Researchers at the Messerli Research Institute’s Clever Dog Lab in Vienna trained a group of 11 dogs to differentiate between angry and happy human faces. Later, they would show them pictures of human faces the pups hadn’t seen in their training. This is how they established that dogs can tell when we are feeling happy, or angry.
Lead researcher Prof Ludwig Huber explained that they first showed them new faces and then different parts of the faces.
“So, for example, in the training, they see the mouth region of the happy face and they associate that with what the eyes would look like.”
Dr Kun Guo, a psychologist and expert in human-animal interaction from the University of Lincoln agreed that dogs can read our faces.
‘’Showing dogs only half of the face and then the other half separately means they can’t rely on the shape of the eyes or the mouth – they must have some sort of template in their mind. So it looks like they can really discriminate between happy and angry.”
However, don’t get your hopes up too high. Both scientists agreed that the research doesn’t show that dogs can actually understand the meaning of our emotions.
On the other hand, Prof Huber added that the dogs didn’t like to touch angry faces during the training.
“So here we have some suggestive evidence that they interpret those pictures, and maybe they really understand an angry face to be something they don’t like.”