Did you just win an election and are beaming with happiness? It is possible that your dog too is jumping around, as if it found an elephant bone in the backyard. While you might be rubbing off the happy vibe, your dog also knows that you are in a good mood. That is because dogs can read and tell what you are feeling, based on your expressions. Though most pet parents understand that dogs sense their emotions, it is being proven that a dog’s ability to ‘read’ an expression is just as good as another human’s.
The Memory Bank
According to a research by Current Biology, there is no sixth sense or intuition involved in this trait of dogs. Due to close interactions with humans over the years, dogs have memorized various human expressions like happiness, anger, hurtful expressions and much more. Their ability to associate these memories with stimuli, brings them much closer to humans.
“We suggest that the successful subjects, while living in intimate relationships with their owners and also in regular contact with other humans, formed memories of human emotional expressions in a global manner as and/or associations between different parts of the face with the same expression,” the research says.
The research also says that the ability of dogs to distinguish between expressions, went beyond simple local cues, showing that a lot more is at play, in their ability to sense.
How and why?
While dogs can distinguish between expressions, researchers still wondering the reasons behind these changed expressions. They are working to find out if it this behaviour is due to artificial selection or extensive experience that dogs have, being with humans or the effects of domestication.
“One may predict that dog breeds that were selected for a purpose that involves close interaction with humans, such as the Border Collies represented prominently in our sample, perform better in the task presented here than dog breeds that were selected for human-independent work,” the researcher say, meaning that this behaviour of dogs is comparable to other primates and animals.
The best way to conclude the reason behind dogs’ ability is to test them against wolves, their wild cousins. Yet another way is to test it against different dog breeds, and other animals which are both domesticated and not, within the same species. With this research at hand, scientists are looking to solve the mystery to see if animals can understand emotions, in addition to merely differentiate it. If that is proven, then we can say for sure that dogs are much better than any human friends!
We are a bunch of hardcore news junkies who also happen to be pet parents. Our world revolves around our kids and that’s how we know!