Your Dog Can Read in on Your Emotions


Courtesy of MNN

To many dog owners it will come to no surprise that dogs can tune in on their emotions. Dogs use information received by senses to read our emotions,researchers found, in a study conducted by a team of animal behavior experts and psychologists from the universities of Lincoln and Sao Paulo. This is an ability that has only been observed in humans before, according to

Seventeen domestic dogs, in the study, saw a large projected pairs of images of the same person or dog revealing two different emotions: happy/playful and angry/aggressive. The dog then heard a bark or a human voice matching the emotional tone of one of the pictures, explained MNN. The dog would spend a longer time looking at the picture that matched the voice or bark.

“Previous studies have indicated that dogs can differentiate between human emotions from cues such as facial expressions, but this is not the same as emotional recognition,” stated researcher Dr. Kun Guo, from the University of Lincoln, to MNN

Threatening faces evoked attentional bias,this may be because of adaptive mechanism: the sensitivity detect threat to then avoid the threat, according to This is a survival advantage, interestingly, dogs’ viewing behavior is dependent on the species: different threatening dog’s face, had the dog looking longer but threatening human faces have the dog giving an avoidance response, also known as an escape response.

“Our study shows that dogs have the ability to integrate two different sources of sensory information into a coherent perception of emotion in both humans and dogs,” Dr. Kun Guo told MNN. “To do so requires a system of internal categorization of emotional states. This cognitive ability has until now only been evidenced in primates and the capacity to do this across species only seen in humans.”

Dr. Kun Guo also stated, “However, there is an important difference between associative behavior, such as learning to respond appropriately to an angry voice, and recognizing a range of very different cues that go together to indicate emotional arousal in another. Our findings are the first to show that dogs truly recognize emotions in humans and other dogs.”