If you’ve ever felt like your dog is talking to you, you’re not alone. Turns out, dogs really do communicate with humans…in their own ways, of course.
That’s right! According to a scientific study done by the University of Salford, dogs not only follow our commands but they also use their own set of instructions to tell us what they want and need. For example, a “paw hover” or turn of the head may suggest they are asking for food or water.
Dogs tell us what to do every day. You may notice it when they wake you up in the morning with a bark to go outside or stare at their toys and back at you to suggest it’s time to play. Some of you may have already noticed these signs before, but have never had a way to explain it!
It’s not just one form of communication either. Funnily enough and maybe not-so-surprising, the study found that they use at least 14 different gestures just to obtain belly rubs.
What makes this discovery so significant is that we always wonder if dogs can understand humans, but never really question our ability to understand our dogs. It was previously thought that dogs were only repeating a learned behavior taught by us and could not comprehend the reasoning behind it.
We now know they use movements and sounds to tell us things, but what’s so interesting is that that they are actually concerned if we understand the gesture or if they need to clarify their message to achieve their goal, as if to say, “Hey, human! Do you understand what I want, or shall I say it in a different way?”
Additional research from the Learning & Behavior journal in June found that dogs can read our faces and know when we are feeling happy, sad, angry and everything in between.
A group of 26 dogs were shown photos of human faces displaying six different emotions: fear, anger, sadness, happiness, disgust and surprise- as well as a “neutral” face.
When shown anger, happiness and fear, their heart rates rose and they tilted their heads to the left. This indicated that the dogs were being exposed to a more stressful situation.
A surprised face resulted in a right head tilt, suggesting they view a surprised face as a non-threatening expression.
The study also included a voice recording being played while they viewed the photos. The dogs were able to match the photo with the appropriate tone of voice!
After living together for so long, the communication between humans and dogs continues to evolve into a beautiful symbiotic relationship. There is evidence to suggest that they are now born with the ability to understand humans.
It’s what we’ve known all along– with the science to back it up! How cool is that?
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Blog Post Written By: Jasmine Kemper
JustFoodForDogs Nutrition Consultant