Sit. Stay. Wiggle around with your tail. Do the puppy look. Manipulate your master!
If your dog appears to be more physically involved and expressive whenever you are around, you might experience a clear case of puppy manipulation.
It has long been assumed that animal facial expressions are reflexive and depended solely on an individual’s emotional state.
However, the truth is finally out there. A new study from the University of Portsmouth recently published in the journal Nature reveals that the infamous adorable puppy look is just another cute trick “up their sleeves (paws)”.
It is now proven that dogs are more physically emotive when human’s attention is concentrated on them.
The team of scientists at the University’s Dog Cognition Centre is the first one to obtain clear evidence that dogs actually move their face as a direct response to human’s attention.
Their facial expressions are not results of their excitement when seeing tasty food, but rather because they want to communicate with us.
Dr. Juliane Kaminski, a dog cognition expert, as well as a lecturer in the psychology department at the University of Portsmouth, led the study by filming and observing 24 dogs of various breeds in order to capture their movements and facial expressions.
The dogs who took part in the study were all family pets, aged from one to 12. Every dog was tied by a lead one meter away from a person, and the dog’s expressions were carefully filmed and examined throughout the whole set of changes in the person’s posture.
With the person being directly turned towards the dog as well as being distracted in another direction and turning their back against the dog.
The results supported the evidence that dogs are really sensitive to human’s attention and their expressions are potentially active attempts to make contact with us, humans, and not just plain emotional displays.
The dog’s body language was thoroughly observed and monitored by an anatomically based coding system DogFACS which gave a reliable and standardized measurement of canine facial muscles, even those that were too subtle and we wouldn’t normally perceive them.
Dr. Kaminski stated: “Domestic dogs have a unique history – they have lived alongside humans for 30,000 years and during that time selection pressures seem to have acted on dogs’ ability to communicate with us.”
It is known that domestic dogs paid attention human’s alertness. In a previous study was found that for example, dogs would steal more food if their owner wasn’t around.
Also, another study proved that dogs will follow the human’s gaze as long as the person first established eye contact with the dog. The dog would naturally know the look-shift is directed at them.
However, “This study moves forward what we understand about dog cognition. ” – said, Dr. Kaminski,
“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.”
So, now you know. Apparently, as time passed by dogs got us all figured out. The next time your pet is trying to play a trick on you by giving you the “cute look”, make sure you reciprocate the right way.