Why Dogs Can Read Your Emotions

Your dog probably can’t figure out what you mean by “Quit slobbering on my slippers,” or what the hell doggie yoga is supposed to be about, but he or she is actually pretty good at figuring out what you’re feeling. Turns out, dog brains respond to voices the same way human brains do.

A study published in Current Biology discovered that emotionally charged voices, such as crying, laughter, or anger, caused canine brains to process emotional information in the same way as human brains. They found this by putting dogs in MRIs, playing over two hundred different sounds for them, and analysing the scans; actually, the most difficult part involved training the dogs to lay still for the MRIs.

A similar region of the brain—the temporal pole, which is part of the temporal lobe—is activated with both dogs and people hear voices. According to the researchers, “The fact that we found these areas exist at all in the dog brain at all is a surprise—it is the first time we have seen this in a non-primate.”

Another interesting finding: dogs responded more strongly to human voices than they did to the sounds of other dogs.

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