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Science Says Your Dog Can Tell Your Smiley Faces From Your Grumpus Frowns

Science Says Your Dog Can Tell Your Smiley Faces From Your Grumpus Frowns

Dog lovers everywhere can now yell out the loudest “DUH!” of all time, because scientists have confirmed something we have always known to be true: dogs can tell the difference between an angry face and a happy face.


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Fine, so maybe it was a bit more involved (and interesting) than just reporting the obvious. Researchers from Messerli Research Institute’s Clever Dog Lab, which is dedicated to studying doggy behavior, trained some smartypants pups to tell the difference between pictures of happy and angry faces.

By teaching the dogs to associate an angry or happy expression with a reward, scientists were then able to conduct tests in which they showed the pups pictures of people they had never seen before, and tests in which only parts of the face were shown. Each dog’s ability to recognize the differences between the images showed researchers that pups can apply the knowledge they have acquired, which tells us a great deal about how dogs and humans communicate with each other.

“Showing dogs only half of the face and then the other half separately means they can’t rely on the shape of the eyes or the mouth – they must have some sort of template in their mind,” said expert in human-animal interaction Dr. Kun Guo.

This might sound familiar, because similar studies have been done before:

“[With the past studies] we’re not sure whether they discriminated the face based on human expression,” says lead author and scientist involved with the study Corsin Müller. “The very simple explanation is the dogs were just identifying teeth.”

The findings have been published in Current Biology.

h/t to BBC News, The Verge
Featured image via Messerli Research Institute

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