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Faces and their emotions matter to dogs

Faces and their emotions matter to dogs
The dog Uggie (C), featured in the film "The Artist", poses after leaving his paw prints in cement, with Lassie (L) and Rin Tin Tin, in the forecourt of the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California June 25, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT ANIMALS) - RTR345DA

Washington: A new study has revealed that like humans, dogs too have social gazing behavior and so, emotional expressions do have an effect on their behavior.

Researchers from University of Helsinki have shown that in dogs, the facial expression alters their viewing behavior, especially in the face of threat.

The study showed that threatening faces evoked attentional bias, which may be based on an evolutionary adaptive mechanism: the sensitivity to detect and avoid threats represents a survival advantage.

Interestingly, dogs’ viewing behavior was dependent on the depicted species: threatening conspecifics’ faces evoked longer looking but threatening human faces instead an avoidance response. Threatening signals carrying different biological validity are most likely processed via distinctive neurocognitive pathways.

Lead researcher Sanni Somppi said that the domestication may have equipped dogs with a sensitivity to detect the threat signals of humans and respond them with pronounced appeasement signals.

The study results provide support to Darwin’s views of animal emotions.

The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE. (ANI)