Dogs Use Specific Facial Expressions to Show Emotion, Study Says

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A new study shows that dogs have bad poker faces and display their emotions through specific facial expressions using their ears and eyebrows, according to the Daily Mail U.K.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Happy To See You


Japanese animal behaviorists used high-speed cameras to capture subtle canine facial ticks while presenting the dogs with various visual cues. The researchers brought 12 dogs into a room and separated them into curtained partitions. During the experiment, the curtains would open briefly to show each dog a series of objects: its owner, a stranger, a toy and some disliked item.

According to the study, published in the journal Behavioural Processes, the dogs displayed different facial expressions in reaction to each object. The dogs raised their eyebrows in response to seeing a person, but raised them higher, especially their left eyebrows, when seeing their owners. When seeing a stranger, the dogs moved their left ears back slightly.

Researchers believe the dogs' facial movements reflect brain activity in the parts of the brain that control emotion.


Said Dr. Miho Nagasawa of the department of animal science at Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan, "It is difficult to explain this difference in movement between the ears and eyebrows. Dogs' ears are prominent features used to convey emotional expression, therefore our results suggest that dogs were more cautious toward unfamiliar people."

The researchers also say the different facial expressions they observed could have contained a mix of emotions, as the dogs experienced happiness upon seeing their owners, but sadness at not being able to go to them or touch them through the partitions.

This study follows one conducted in the U.S. earlier this year that found owners were able to read facial expressions in their dogs.

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zygi & paris

When I talk sweet talk to my Zygi, I see the love in her eyes. She bats her long eye lashes, and has a dreamy look in her eyes. When I finish talking to her, she kisses me, with a lick. She is a mini Schnauzer, and everyone knows that they know how to talk, with different barks. She asks for different things that way. That is how she tells me she has to go out to the bathroom. So smart and cute.

September 19 2013 at 11:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jennie

My Caitlin loves me just as much as I love her, she talks(barks), jumps and I can see it in her eyes how happy she gets when I come home. I can also s when she is afraid for something, sad and so on, its like I can see any emotion in her. I think every dog owner can do that

August 03 2013 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

Bacon bits in the pocket. Raises eye brows, wiggles tails, receive alert full undivided attention. Works every time.

August 01 2013 at 7:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mds308

I know my dog loves me because after he humps my leg, he cuddles with me too.

August 01 2013 at 7:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mds308's comment
metusmetu

Must be a Missouri Leg Hound.......

August 01 2013 at 8:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rivarambler

What ever he is looks like a nice fellow, hope he ends up with a great home, I have 9 dogs, 3 cats, my dogs range from yorkie mix to doberman, were all one big happy family, I do have a farm.

August 01 2013 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hollandcl

proves that there is too much money floating around for people to actualy feel the need to do an experiment for this.

August 01 2013 at 4:11 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
*The Roberts*

My dogs cry & shake their butts when I come home, so I\'m pretty sure they love me as much as I love them!

August 01 2013 at 3:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
spkrart

Ojitos
Know what you\'d get if you crossed a pitbull and Paris Hilton?
Spkrart: A blond Fox Terrier.

August 01 2013 at 3:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
contitast

what a bunch of dog crap. lol

August 01 2013 at 3:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
spkrart

Why would you want anyone to think their dog doesn't like them? Why would you want to put negative feelings in the human owner of the dog. An individual who can't stand rejection is going to act out towards the animal with little or no sensitivity towards the animal's behavior. Really stupid, I think. It can quickly lead to an abused animal in some cases. You're supposed to love your dog unequivocally.

August 01 2013 at 3:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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