Fido, or Freud?
Any pet parent will attest to the idea that our fur babies seem to have the ability to understand what we’re saying and feeling. But is there factual science to back it up? Well the answer to that is yes, there is! It has been proven that dogs, in particular, can read our facial expressions and sense our emotions.
While training a new pup, tone and hand gestures are commonly used and accepted methods. But have you ever really considered how your dog understands these human actions and if so, how emotion is any different? “There are six basic emotions that humans can recognize from vocalizations, regardless of culture: fear, sadness, anger, disgust, surprise, and happiness” (Gibeault). If we possess the basic ability to read one another's emotions, despite huge differences that separate the way we communicate, then it only makes sense that our more-than-capable canines can too.
Turns out that when Fido hears either a man or mongrel's voice, a special portion of his brain actually breaks it down to reveal the raw emotion. It works a lot like the piece in the human brain that deciphers other human voices. In both circumstances, this unique region of the brain reacts differently, depending on whether it detects positive or negative emotion (Doucleff). This cognitive capability is what allows our friends on all fours to acknowledge our feelings. *Cue adorably perplexed head tilt*
This extraordinary ability has caused our marvelous mutts to paw open the door to being employed as emotional support animals -- both in personal and professional settings. Man's best friend just leapt to the next level!
So give your tail-wagger some extra love today because they can tell when you could use a little.
Article credit: Cassidy Potter
Illustration credit: Hunter Hansen