As dog owners, we tend to read a lot into our best friends’ expressions, since they can’t actually tell us what they are thinking or feeling. But did you ever wonder if your interpretations are correct? A new project to taxonimize all the possible expressions that dogs can make is underway at England’s University of Portsmouth:
“We have the same problem as studies of human faces — we tend to interpret, but not describe,” Kaminski said. People say that dogs look sad, or happy, or guilty — but how many of these assessments come from a human point of view, instead of the dog’s? To get around that problem, “you need an objective tool, which we now have,” Kaminski said.
Researchers belive that a better understanding of dog expressions can help us avoid conflicts , such as when a child mistakes bared teeth for a smile. The study involves both looking at the relationship between the dog’s expressions and its feelings, as well as at humans’ tendency to look at dogs the same way we look at people.