If you’re happy, your dog knows it from your face

Dogs distinguish anger from joy on a person’s face, thanks to a skill learned after years of living together

The dogs not only recognize a face among a handful of familiar faces, but also distinguish in it the joy of anger. This is the surprising finding of a research in which Austrian scientists have been able to verify for the first time the ability to read emotions on faces between animals of different species. This learning, they say, is the result of the great love that dogs feel for humans and of a complicated skill exercised during long years of living together. In the following article, the researchers answer this intrigue: how do dogs perceive people and why have they learned to interpret their faces, even if they are of such different species? The answer is surprising and demonstrates the great development of canine intelligence, in addition to the unconditional affection that dogs have for the humans with whom they share their lives.

Dogs distinguish joy and anger on people’s faces

How do dogs perceive humans, how do they observe their faces, and what do they think of them? Why do dogs stare so much at people and how much information do they collect from their facial expressions? In other words , do dogs know when someone is happy or angry just by looking at their face?

The not only dogs are able to distinguish one face among a handful of familiar faces but also, they also recognize the joy and anger in every facial expression .

A dog knows if someone is happy by his face

The researchers wanted to know if the best friend of men and women, with whom people have shared their lives for 12,000 years , can differentiate emotional expressions in the gestures of the human face. Are dogs capable of appreciating joy or anger just by reading it on an individual’s face?

The face is the mirror of emotions, these are reflected in facial expressions and gestures. And scientists have discovered that dogs do distinguish between a happy human face and an angry one, in what Huber says has become the first scientific evidence of this behaviour among nonhuman animals of different species .

Differentiating the facial expression of an animal of the same species is an adaptive strategy that is learned naturally, since it allows you to relate, know how to behave and anticipate behaviours. Recognizing emotions in a species other than our own is more difficult, since each species expresses its feelings in different ways: the fact that dogs have learned to distinguish our anger or happiness only by our face is a skill they have learned after many years of experience, of observing us and living by our side.

Dogs learn to read the human face

How is it possible that dogs are so adapted to life among humans that they are even able to read their faces? What has happened during the long process of domestication and living together to make it possible? These were some of the questions that the scientists raised in their research . In it, they trained 20 dogs for months to look at photographs of the same person and associate expressions of anger or joy with positive reinforcement, in the form of an edible canine treat.

The surprise came in the second stage of the study The dogs were able to distinguish the same expressions in unfamiliar faces, faces that they had not seen during their training. “These results suggest that dogs learn to interpret the human face and that they are capable of understanding that an angry face is not a good thing, ” the experts conclude.

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