Dogs use facial expressions to communicate with their guardians.
That is the news from several university research centers, and while many people who send hours with their dogs are likely to say, ‘Well, duh.’ it is interesting in that the scientific community has decided to explore communication between humans and other animals.
In one research project it was discovered that dogs use more facial expression when their guardians are looking at them as opposed to when their guardians are turned away from them. Their expressions do not change when given a treat or eating, which led researchers to be believe dogs are trying to communicate with humans by using expressions (a choice) rather than simply creating expressions from emotional stimuli such as be given treats or food. They hypothesize this is a direct result from 30,000 years of domestication. Another research project determined dogs can also recognize human emotions by reading the combination of human expressions along with vocalizations. Again it seems to many dog guardians an obvious conclusion that perhaps required no scientific validation and, in fact the scientific community admitted that ‘antidotally’ guardians had reported the same.
Consider all the attributes we bestow on our dogs as they react to various events or situations in our everyday lives that others, who do not share a home with a favored friend, often smile patiently through our recital as their attention drifts. Contemplate the depth of grief we feel when their lives are over and we are alone or the amount of time we carve out of the day simply because we want to spend more time with them the day allows.
In those moments we know there is much more going on behind those eyes than science gives them credit for. It is a known thing to us. It is not questioned.
But it is nice to know that science and research is interested enough in the possibility of dogs speaking to us, in whatever form science sees fit to recognize, that they have begun to study the possibilities in earnest. And the future? Well, we can be sure they will uncover the rest of the mysteries concerning our animal companions that most guardians already know to be fact. But for the non-believer, science makes it true.