Many fur parents believe their dog understand their emotions. As a fur parent, I notice that when I am so upset or angry my dogs avoid any contact with me, and when I am sad or quiet they just snuggle right up to my face and lick me or just sitting beside me and it comforts me. So it made me also think that maybe my dog understands what I feel at some point and I am right!
Scientists have demonstrated once and for all, that Dogs Can Actually Read Your Emotions. By combining information from different senses according to research dogs form abstract mental representations of positive and negative emotional states by humans.
Humans and dogs have lived together for 40,000 years, and somewhere along the way, this mans best friend have evolved to have the skills to read our emotion. A study published in Biology Letters, dogs are capable of knowing how you feel, this makes the connection between human and dogs to be deeper. Dogs can read human emotions, not only in our facial expressions but also in our vocalizations.
The study experiments were carried out by a team leader Natalia de Souza Albuquerque and her team of animal behavior experts and psychologists at the University of Lincoln, UK, and the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, they recruited 17 pet dogs and subjected them through two rounds of experiments.
The dogs used in the testing were unfamiliar with the procedure, avoiding any chance of conditioning. The vocalization sound accompanying the human faces was also unfamiliar.
Each dog was presented with an image of a dog or human with either a happy or angry facial expression. Then, the researchers paired the images a variety of sounds, such as playful or aggressive barking for the images of the dogs, and an angry or happy tone for images of people.
The researchers used a different language for the human voices, selecting Brazilian or Portuguese to eliminate the chance that the London dogs are simply reacting English words and not emotion. “We wanted to see if the dogs could assess the emotional content of the human voices and whether they would actually discriminate the emotional information within them,” explained Natalia De Souza Albuquerque.
The result of the experiments shows that the dogs paid much attention to the images that match with the same tone corresponding to the emotion of the image.
“What we found is that when dogs were hearing positive sounds they would look longer to positive faces, both human and dog. And when they were listening to negative sounds they would look longer to negative, angry faces,” added De Souza Albuquerque.
According to the researchers, the dogs’ paying attention was a clue that the dogs recognized the emotions. On the other hand, when dogs heard a neutral sound, the dogs lost interest, indicating that they had sensed a lack of emotion.
The study shows that dogs can integrate two different sources of sensory information into a perception of emotion in both humans and dogs. This means dogs must have a system of internal categorization of emotional states. Among animal groups, it’s a cognitive ability previously only evidenced in primates.
We can’t assure that talking to our dog will make them understand what we are saying but showing our true emotion to them is one way on how can we make them understand us, and might be a way for us to understand them too.