Though at first glance this article might seem esoteric, in very real terms it offers us insights into how we communicate with one another. And, simply put, the results proved to be quite remarkable. Merely by looking at photographs of a dog's face in different contexts (such as playing ball, meeting a stranger, or resting quietly with their companion nearby), human subjects of various backgrounds—both those accustomed and unaccustomed to living with dogs—consistently and accurately interpreted a dog's facial expressions. While the emotions that the researchers assigned to some of the contexts (i.e., anger, fear, and disgust) questionably describe a dog’s motivational states, both experienced and inexperienced subjects interpreted most emotions remarkably consistently.
In what to most readers may seem an obscure scientific journal, Behavioral Processes, a study was published last June that brings an entire new light to our human relatedness to other animals with whom we share our lives. Researchers at Walden University and the University of Florida set out to see if people intrinsically understood the emotions of dogs without explanation. Based on earlier research done with chimpanzees and humans, scientists have shown that we can acurately read and interpret facial expressions not only of fellow humans but also other primate species. But, the question these researchers posed was does this ability extend to our other companion species.