Category Archives: dog research

Can Dogs Recognize an Angry or Happy Human Face?

dogs recognizeBy Linda Cole

We can usually tell what kind of mood a person is in by observing their body language, facial expression and tone of voice. It’s an ability only seen in humans and one other species – dogs. But do canines know when we are happy or angry just by looking at our face? According to a new study, the answer is yes; your dog knows if you are giving them a smile or a frown!

Researchers in Vienna, Austria put 11 dogs through a series of tests to see if canines can recognize a happy or angry face by looking at images. The dogs were never shown the entire face of the person, and could only see either the top half of the face or the lower half. They could only make their decision by viewing the person’s eyes or mouth.

To begin the study, each dog was trained to correctly pick out images of the same person with either a happy or angry face. The group of dogs included a Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Fox Terrier, Border Collies and mixed breed dogs. Half of the dogs received a reward for picking out a happy face, and the other half had to pick out the angry face to earn their reward. To make their picks, each dog had to tap the correct image on a computer screen with their nose. A correct tap sent a treat down a tube to the dog.

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Could You Identify Your Dog by Scent Alone?

By Linda Cole

The sniffing ability of the average canine is 1000 times more powerful than humans, and they can locate their owner in a sea of other people. Some smells we encounter can cause an emotional reaction by stirring up past memories. Many everyday odors are registered unconsciously in the mind and we barely notice them. Dog owners may scoff, but one study showed that the smell of your dog is imprinted in your mind and that you do have the ability to recognize your pet by scent alone!

Different odors surround us every day in the home and workplace, but most of them are so familiar we don’t even think about them. We are more likely to notice an unfamiliar scent that catches our attention. There have been a handful of studies done on humans to determine if we have the ability to recognize people close to us based on smell alone. It turns out that mothers can accurately recognize the smell of their babies. Both mothers and fathers can identify the scent of their children, and women can accurately categorize strangers into different age groups based only on the individual’s scent.

In a study done by psychologists at Queens University in Ireland, 26 dog owners were recruited to participate in research to see if they would be able to identify their own dogs by scent alone. Each owner was given a flannel blanket and instructed to remove all other bedding in their dog’s bed and use only the flannel blanket for three consecutive nights. Owners were also instructed to have their dog sleep in a different room from theirs.

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Can Dogs Recognize Kind-Hearted and Generous People?

By Linda Cole

In the canine world, communication is through yips, growls, barks, and an expert ability to decipher body language. You may not realize your dog watches what you do during social interactions with other people, but just by observing how we treat each other, our canine friends can identify people who might be helpful. A recent study found that dogs can recognize someone who is kind-hearted and generous.

Generosity comes from a Latin word “generosus” which means “of noble birth.” The definition of generosity evolved in the 1600s to mean “a nobility of spirit” which was still associated with people born into the upper class, but it was used to define admirable qualities for an individual person rather than their family history. Generosity eventually evolved sometime in the 1700s to define someone who willingly gives their time, money and possessions to others. Today, we view someone who shows generosity to others as being kind-hearted and helpful – a quality dogs can also understand and recognize.

Social eavesdropping is something we all engage in. It might be a conversation heard between two people standing behind you in a line, or an intentional act of listening to a private conversation. People watching is also a form of eavesdropping. We use our people watching skills to make a judgment call, such as deciding which person in a group would be more helpful and friendly.

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How Closely Related are Dogs and Wolves?

By Linda Cole

Scientists have believed for many years that dogs evolved from wolves, and most likely became domesticated when humans settled down and turned to agriculture. However, a study in early 2014 contradicts this belief with evidence that points to a common ancestor of dogs and wolves, and a domestication process that took place earlier than once thought.

The one thing scientists know for certain is that new evidence continues to be uncovered about when, where, how and why dogs became man’s best friend. Fossilized dog skulls and bones help peel back the hands of time to give researchers more insight into the domestication of dogs.

In the field of biology, evolution is a generation-to-generation change in the gene pool through natural selection, mutation, migration or genetic drift – which is random change in a population’s gene pool based on chance and usually occurs only in small isolated populations. The consensus was that dogs started to evolve from the gray wolf around 10,000 years ago. New research has found dogs and wolves split off from a now extinct common ancestor somewhere between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago. What caused the ancestor to die off is a mystery.

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A Research Center Devoted to Learning about Dogs

By Linda Cole

The Clever Dog Lab is a research center in Vienna, Austria that’s been around for about six years. It’s one of a handful of centers around the world studying dogs to see how they think and why they behave in certain ways. The researchers’ main goals are to learn more about canine personality, how dogs view their world, how they compare to other species when performing a variety of cognitive tests, and how they problem solve.

For years, canines were thought of as animals with limited intelligence, understanding and emotions. Fortunately, a flurry of research conducted on our four legged friends in recent years paints a much different picture. Researchers are getting into the minds and hearts of dogs, and discovering the importance of our relationship with canines.

More than 600 volunteer dogs are used for the research at the Clever Dog Lab. The dogs are a variety of ages and breeds, both mixed and purebreds. Dog owners lend their pets to the research team that is trying to answer questions concerning our canine friends. Scientists believe that learning how dogs think and why they behave in certain ways can help them learn more about our own behaviors and our brains.

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Is Your Dog an Optimist or a Pessimist?

By Linda Cole

Anyone who has spent quality time with a dog understands how complicated canines can be. Like us, dogs view the world from their own individual perspective. An interesting new study has found that dogs see things in an optimistic or pessimistic way, and how your dog behaves could be because he sees his dish of CANIDAE as “half full” or “half empty.”

How we interpret events in our lives is based on our world view. We are idealists, realists, optimists or pessimists, and how we react to different situations depends on our mental attitude. An optimistic person sees the glass as half full and has faith that any given situation will have the best possible outcome. A pessimist sees the glass as half empty and doesn’t have confidence that a positive outcome will occur.

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