Dogs can read your facial cues. A new study suggests man's best friend understands emotional expression

Samira, an 8-week-old Dachshund puppy. (Photo: Elise Amendola/AP)

A new study suggests that dogs can read your facial expressions — as if we needed further proof that dogs are the most magnificent creatures on this blue planet.

What does that mean? Fido can tell when you are angry, stressed, happy, excited and responds accordingly. Honestly, what did we do to deserve such good doggies?

According to a new study published in Learning & Behaviour journal, there’s science behind being man’s best friend, and it’s due to canines’ instinctive understanding of humans.

The study showed 26 dogs who were being fed pictures of a male and female displaying six different emotions. The feelings included anger, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, disgust, and a neutral expression.

When shown “arousing emotional states,” like anger, happiness, and fear dogs showed an increased heart rate.

According to the co-author of the study, Marcello Siniscalchi, negative emotions are processed by the right hemisphere of a dog’s brain, while the left processes positive emotions. Like other mammals, the right side of a dog’s brain regulates their “fight or flight” response.

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They were able to draw this conclusion by observing which way the dogs tilted their heads in reaction to the emotion, and how quickly they went back to eating.

When shown anger, fear, or happiness, the dogs tilted their head to the left and was slower to resume eating. When shown a surprised expression, the dogs tilted their heads to the right — as it is nonthreatening to the pups.

Dogs and humans have been living in harmony for over 30,000 years, so it makes sense as to why these two species are so in tune with each other. Studies have found that dogs can pick up cues in a person’s voice, body odor, and posture as well.

That powerful bond you feel towards your dog? It’s real!


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