National Geographic early this month reported that scientists from the Vienna Messerli Research Institute in Austria have established that dogs are really smart enough to read human faces that are both familiar or new to them. Their research, published in the journal Current Biology on February 12, 2015, offers the first solid evidence that dogs have this acute sense of recognizing emotional cues in another species, specially humans.
The researchers trained 11 dogs for their study to discriminate between photos of people who look happy or angry. Some dogs were given treats for identifying happy faces, which somehow made them to learn quicker than their counterparts who were not given treats for pinpointing photos with angry faces. The dogs also appeared to know the meaning behind the two expressions: happy is positive, angry is negative, the researchers said.
Sometimes the dogs were shown only half of a photo, but they still managed to distinguish what type of expression it conveys.
The latest study, which was co-authored by Corsin Müller from the same esteemed Vienna institution, complements a 2008 study that suggested dogs can tell by just looking what a person is feeling.