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Raised Eyebrows When Dogs Meet Owners!

Posted on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 01:38PM by Andi Godfrey
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Many dog owners claim that they understand everything their dog is ‘saying’ and yet, have they really picked up on all the subtleties of expression that a dog uses to convey what it is thinking?

Scientists in Japan found that the slightest change in a dog’s facial expression can convey different messages.  By placing pieces of blue marker tape at strategic places on a dog’s face and using a high speed camera they were able to detect minute facial changes in response to positive and negative stimuli.

12 dogs were placed in a room divided by a partition of black curtains that were briefly opened to expose what was on the other side.  When introduced to a stranger the dogs’ eyebrows would rise slightly and left ear would move back but when presented with an object they did not like, the right ear moved back.  

The dogs raised their eyebrows on seeing any human but on seeing their owners, the eyebrows were raised much higher and the left eyebrow move upwards after half a second of seeing them.

Dr Miho Nagasawa, from the Department of Animal Science at Azabu University offered this explanation:

“Dogs’ ears are prominent features used to convey emotional expression therefore our results suggest that dogs were more cautious toward unfamiliar people.

“In contrast, eyebrow movement might indicate a visible response where by dogs attempted to look at their owners more intently.”

The researchers suggested that the subtle changes of expression on different sides of the face corresponded to changes of activity in the part of the brain controlling emotions. They added that the dogs were experiencing conflicting emotions on seeing their owners too – positive reactions to seeing them but negative ones to being unable to approach them.

Do not lose heart, dog owners, if you have not noticed your dog raising an eyebrow at you!  Former research carried out at the Walden University, Minneapolis has shown that even people with minimal experience of dogs could detect happy, sad, surprised and frightened expressions in their dogs.


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