New Study Shows Dogs Make Puppy Eyes Just for Us!
19 October, 2017
Dogs really do turn on the puppy eyes when we look at them, according to researchers studying dogs’ facial expressions. A new study shows that dogs make more facial movements when a human is paying attention to them, including raising their eyebrows, making their eyes appear bigger and even sticking out their tongues.
The new study indicates that dogs’ facial expressions are their way of communication
The research pushes back against the belief that animal facial expressions are largely unconscious movements that reflect internal sentiments, rather than a way to communicate. Their expressions are responsive to humans, not just to other dogs.
“Facial expression is often seen as something that is very emotionally driven and is very fixed, and so it isn’t something that animals can change depending on their circumstances,” said Bridget Waller, professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Portsmouth, and an author of the study.
The study used video cameras to record the facial movements of dogs
Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study involved researchers using a video camera to record the facial movements of 24 dogs over a series of experiments in which a human either faced the animal, or faced away, and presented the dog with a tidbit, or did not.
The recordings were then examined by the team frame by frame to determine changes in the facial muscles of the canines.
The results reveal that the pooches made far more facial expressions when the human was facing the dog, than when they turned away – in particular, the animals were more likely to show their tongues and raise their inner eyebrows.
Surprisingly, food had no impact on the dogs’ facial expressions
Interestingly, the presence of food had no impact on the animals’ expressions. So, it really shows that they weren’t trying to manipulate the humans, but just was their way of communicating with them.
The study didn’t reveal whether dogs were trying to make a deeper connection with us
The study did note that their work didn’t show whether dogs simply make faces when a human pays attention to them, or whether it reflects a deeper connection. But, they said, it was notable that the dogs tend to make their eyes appear bigger which we find adorable (and react accordingly)!
Are these puppy eyes intentional? Hard to know, but the study does show us that dogs are very sensitive to our attention and will make puppy eyes to make sure they get it.
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