Dogs are known to be loyal to their owners and are considered man’s best friend for the past 30,000 years. Scientists have already unlocked the mystery to that long, close and harmonious relationship between man and beast. Scientists believe that dogs seem to know how interpret our feelings. Researchers found that they are sensitive to our state of mind. By just watching our facial expression they may be able to tell if we are happy, angry or sad.
The discovery describes the first reliable proof that an animal, not just humans, can recognize between facial appearances that express human feelings.
A professor of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Professor Ludwig Huber said; “Our study demonstrates that dogs can distinguish angry and happy expressions in humans, they can tell that these two expressions have different meanings, and they can do this not only for people they know well, but even for faces they have never seen before.”
To further support this study, published recently in the Cell Press Journal Current Biology, researchers trained dogs by letting them to recognize between different images of the same person showing a happy or angry face. Each time the dogs were made to do it, they were only shown either the upper or the lower part of the face. After the exercise of having been shown 15 pairs of pictures, the dogs were tested again using four kinds of evaluations. They were made to look at new faces or different parts of the face that were already shown to them previously.
The result showed the researchers that dogs surprisingly were able to choose between an angry or happy face done in random manner each time. This discovery showed that dogs not only learned to recognize a specific facial expression, but they were also able to convey what they learned in training to new indications.
“We think the dogs in our study could have solved the task only by applying their knowledge of emotional expressions in humans to the unfamiliar pictures we presented to them.” Added Dr. Corsin Muller. Professor Huber said it was hard to tell what it actually mean to them when they see a happy of an angry face. “But it appears likely to us that the dogs associate a smiling face with a positive meaning and an angry facial expression with a negative meaning” he added.
Dr. Muller and Professor Huber announced that the dogs were slower to learn when they were given rewards to identify an angry face saying an experience may have influenced them in a way.
The researchers will resume with their study to evaluate the role of experience in the dog’s competence to identify human emotions. They also aim to study how dogs themselves show emotions and how their emotions are determined by the emotions of their owners or humans