New Research Says Your Dog Knows Exactly What It’s Doing When It Flashes You ‘Puppy Dog Eyes’
If you’ve ever owned a dog, you’ve gone through a moment where the animal’s adorable facial expression convinces you to give into whatever their canine heart desires. Most dog owners melt when they see their pooch flash its puppy dog eyes, assuming it’s just a natural expression of their wants. However, new research from Dr. Juliane Kaminski suggests that dogs know exactly what they’re doing when they flash their puppy dog eyes.
According to research recently released by Scientific Reports, dogs actually tailor their facial expressions based on the amount of attention human beings give them, and they can cognitively understand when to make a certain facial expression in order to achieve a desired result.
The researchers explained their conclusion as such: “…Dogs’ production of facial expressions is subject to audience effects, and can be tailored to the human attentional state suggesting some communicative function and are not simple emotional displays based on the dogs’ arousal state. Facial expressions are often considered to be an automatic, reflexive and emotionally based system, but these data point to a more flexible system (at least in domestic dogs) combining both emotional and potentially cognitive processes.”
Kaminski, the lead author of the survey, further explained in a statement, “We can now be confident that the production of facial expressions made by dogs are dependent on the attention state of their audience and are not just a result of dogs being excited. In our study they produced far more expressions when someone was watching, but seeing food treats did not have the same effect.”
Kaminski continued, “The findings appear to support evidence [that] dogs are sensitive to humans’ attention and that expressions are potentially active attempts to communicate, not simple emotional displays.”
Keep this in mind the next time your dog flashes his/her puppy dog eyes at you when you’re debating giving it that one extra treat.
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