This answers the age old question about who is training who.
You know how your heart melts whenever a pup raises its eyebrows? Thats no accident. While research on non-human animals has long suggested that facial expressions are involuntary, it turns out dogs may be different, and like humans, able to control their facial expressions to get what they want. Are you really surprised?
In a 2017 study published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers tested whether dogs illustrated the audience effect. They found that dogs reacted with more noticeable facial expressions when humans were around than when there were no humans around, suggesting that dogs use facial expressions to voluntarily communicate.
A team of researchers at the University of Portsmouth Dog Cognition Centre devised an experiment to investigate whether dogs facial expressions are subject to audience effects, which simply means that they wanted to see whether dogs made different faces when they thought they werent being watched. This would suggest that theyre voluntarily controlling their facial expressions, changing what we know about animal behavior.
The alternative, that dogs are simply making involuntary faces that express their excitement, sadness, or anger, has been the standard view.
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