Here's Why You Obsess Over Every Little Look Your Dog Makes

By Briana Hansen

A new study from the University of Helsinki and Aalto University shows that you may be reading a bit too much into every subtle expression on your furry friend's face.

listen dog
credit: Giphy

Empathetic people (those who are more sensitive and tend to experience emotions and connection on a deeper level) tend to intensely evaluate dog faces. And the research results suggest that their evaluations may not be all that accurate.

Obviously, you'd have to be able to communicate clearly with a dog to really know whether or not their face matches their immediate mood. But the basic findings suggest that empathetic people, because of how they interpret human mood swings, are likely over analyzing their dog's subtle facial changes.

happy pup
credit: Giphy

Dogs definitely express themselves. And their faces can be accurate signals of their mood. But that doesn't automatically mean every feature of their face expresses itself exactly like every feature of the human face — even if there are a bunch of seeming similarities. A more accurate way to figure out what a dog is really thinking or feeling happens by spending time with the canine. Research suggests that experience with dogs can give you a better understanding of specific dog signals, and subtle facial nuances of dogs in general.

Interestingly, both dogs and humans were accurate in their interpretations of facial threats. A similar study from the University of Helsinki showed that both dogs and people knew when they were getting threatening facial signals from the other species.

mad dog
credit: Giphy

Hopefully, these researchers will learn more about what exactly goes on in the minds of these beautiful creatures so we can always know what they're thinking and cater to their every whim.

Until then, remember that there's no need to read too much into your four-legged friend's face, unless you already know them really well.