A recent Finnish study revealed our furry friends are cleverer than we thought. According to Sanni Somppi, a researcher at the Helsinki University in Finland, dogs are capable of distinguishing human facial expressions as good as any other human would.
There were a lot of facts circulating around a dog’s ability to “sniff out” the emotions of people. There was even an urban myth that said that when you’re scared or angry your brain releases adrenaline that can be easily smelled by a dog. The myth explained that that is the reason for which they bark at people that are scared of them, or they attack people that plan on hitting them.
But a researcher from the Helsinki University of Finland, Sanni Somppi, proves them all wrong with the results of her latest study.
In order to determine whether or not our furry, loyal friends are able to read our facial expressions, Somppi devised an experiment using pictures of both angry humans and threatening fellow canids.
For her experiment, Somppi used a sample 31 dogs belonging to 13 different species. She showed the dogs pictures of both angry humans and dogs and she noted the response of each individual canids.
When confronted with the pictures of angry humans, dogs usually tended to first look at the eyes of the pictured individual and then at the rest of the face. Upon recognizing the features that suggested anger, the dogs then proceeded to bow their heads, thus avoiding the direct violent gaze of the person showed to them.
According to Somppi, this behavior suggests that the dogs recognized the authority of the humans and, by avoiding to look directly into their eyes, the dogs were also avoiding a possible violent contact. This is their way of being the better man and not starting a fight. They were showing respect towards the anger-stricken humans.
But when confronted with the image of an angry dog, the man’s fluffiest best friend reacted completely different. The dogs did not show any signs of submission when they were showed a picture of an angry fellow canid, on the contrary, they revealed their teeth and started to growl, showing that they are ready to engage in physical conflict, if the case requires.
It seems that Somppi’s study revealed that our furry friends are cleverer than we thought. Dogs actually look a person in the eyes to see their real intentions and only then do they focus on the facial features, too.
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