Your dog knows when you are smiling

Your dog knows when you are smiling

Best friend indeed

Researchers at Azabu University in Japan found that dogs have become so attuned to living with humans that they even distinguish a smile, even on the faces of some strangers.

Dogs, they said, have an innate ability to recognise each others’ expressions, but over time they also learned to interpret faces of a completely different species — humans, LiveScience reported.

For the study, the team led by Miho Nagasawa, trained nine pet dogs using photos of their owners, who were  smiling in some of the photos and looking neutral in the others.

The dogs were trained to touch their nose to photos of their owner’s smiling face. Only five of the dogs completed this training.

These dogs were then shown photo pairs of smiling and blank-expression faces of unfamiliar people as well as of their owners. When shown photo pairs of either their owner or a stranger who was the same gender as their owner, the dogs selected the smiling faces more often than would be expected if they were randomly choosing a photo.

Dogs may be picking up on obvious differences in facial features between the smiling and blank faces, such as the exposed teeth associated with smiling, the researchers believe.

Detailing their findings in the July issue of the journal Animal Cognition, the researchers wrote: “This study has shown that dogs that live closely with humans are also able to recognise positive facial expressions, indicating that these dogs have acquired the social skills helpful to survive.

“The ability to learn to discriminate human facial expressions must have helped dogs to adapt to human society.”

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