This May Be Why Your Idaho Dog is Smiling
Human beings are weird. My wife says I'm a great example of this. We seriously wonder about strange stuff. I bet you have also thought about why your dog seems to smile at you sometimes. I think I know why.
The NY Times just shared a story about how dogs pay attention to the looks on your face. They infer that your dog may be smiling because you have a grin on your face. That's ironic since you may be grinning because you think your dog is smiling. It's a vicious cycle.
That story was based on a real scientific study that explored the facial expressions of animals. Seriously. Someone spent good money to learn about this.
Here's part of the conclusion that was shared on Nature.com:
The current study is therefore evidence that dogs are sensitive to the human’s attentional state when producing facial expressions, suggesting that facial expressions are not just inflexible and involuntary displays of emotional states, but rather potentially active attempts to communicate with others.
I don't recommend trying to read every single word in that story because it was obviously put together by people much smarter than me who seemed determined to confuse. I'll summarize as best as my 2nd grade education allows. They tested dogs with food and without food to see how much attention they got each time. They also measured tail wagging. Really. In the end, the facial expression of humans proved to make a difference in the facial expression of the dogs.
I really should have become a dog tester instead of a radio guy, although I will admit the jobs are similar. Both involve eating any food that we see.
If you've thought your dog is smiling at you, now you have some science to back up that thought.