Marcello Siniscalchi, Serenella d’Ingeo and Angelo Quaranta of the University of Bari Aldo Moro in Italy conducted a study to determine if dogs can read human emotions. Their study showed that dogs can understand us by reading our tone of voice, body odor, posture, our faces.
The researchers showed 26 dogs pictures of a man and women whose facial expressions displayed anger, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, disgust or neutral. The dogs had a stronger response (greater cardiac activity) when they saw the more emotional faces of the man and woman displaying anger, fear and happiness. Interestingly, the dogs took longer to resume eating when they saw these emotions. What is interesting is the dogs turned their heads to the left when they perceived these emotions.
When they saw the look of surprise on the human faces they turned their heads to the right. This indicates that the right side of the brain is more involved in processing negative emotions and their left side of the brain processes more positive emotions.
The important thing for us to understand is that when we are working with our dogs, they are able to understand a wide range of our emotions. This helps our dogs understand us and hopefully, help us understand our dog’s behaviors.