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Ability of dogs to recognise people's facial expressions

C. A. Muler, K. Schmitt, A. L. A. Barber, L. Huber

DOGS can pick up on certain behavioural cues in humans. This study aimed to assess whether dogs can discriminate between people's facial expressions.

The dogs first underwent training in which they were taught to discriminate between faces of the same person with a happy or angry facial expression. In the training phase, the dogs were shown either the top or bottom half of the face only and were rewarded (with food) for choosing the correct picture for either the happy or angry faces. Some dogs were taught to detect angry faces only, while the rest were taught to look for happy faces only.

In the experimental phase of the study, the 11 dogs that successfully completed the training were given different happy or angry stimuli, including pictures of faces of different people, pictures of the other halves of the faces that had been used in the training phase as well as just the left side of faces, and their ability to discriminate between them was assessed.

All 11 dogs performed better than chance at correctly identifying happy or angry faces, and there were no differences in accuracy between the different test conditions.

The …

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