Any dog owner will claim they can tell exactly what their pet is thinking just by looking at it. Now scientists have discovered that they may well be right.
A study has shown that people are able to identify precisely a range of emotions in dogs from changes in their facial expressions.
The research showed that volunteers could correctly spot when a dog was happy, sad, angry, scared, surprised and disgusted when shown only a picture of the animal's face, suggesting that humans are naturally attuned to detecting how animals are feeling.
Dr Tina Bloom, a psychologist who led the research, said: "There is no doubt that humans have the ability to recognise emotional states in other humans and accurately read other humans' facial expressions. We have shown that humans are also able to accurately identify at least one dog's facial expressions."
The study, published in the journal Behavioural Processes, used photographs of a police dog named Mal, a Belgian shepherd dog, as it experienced different emotions.
By far the easiest emotion that 50 volunteers recognised was happiness, with 88 per cent of the volunteers correctly identifying it. Anger was identified by 70 per cent of participants. The canine expressions that were hardest for humans to identify were surprise and disgust.
by Adam Lusher Telegraph.co.uk