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Recognition of emotions by animals

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posted on Feb, 2 2016 @ 02:57 AM
Though us animal owners will alll feel like our animals understand us, I still keep that somewhat aside in my mind, not sure of how these are communicated. I tend to percieve that most of my animals will pick it up through variations in my touch, the tone of my voice, my heart rate and blood pressure, the smells of physiological changes.

But I find myself really surprised at the possible evidence that some of them, who have been domesticated and living with humans for a very long time, can recognize facial expressions. Like dogs. My dog wagging his tail and grinning when he sees me smile, or dropping it and looking worried when I have a sad face is already interesting- but we have developed a state of empathy, in which he identifies with me, so.... not that wonderous...

But last night, as my dog, Cody, sat next to me on the couch, watching tv (well he usually only watches if dogs come on, or other animals - he likes animal documentaries..) there were two scenes which piqued his interest.

In one, a man was silently crying, in a close up of his face. Cody jerked up straight, watching intensely and cocking his head right and left, lifting his ears, until the scene was over.

In the second, a baby was crying. This had the same effect, but magnified. He got very concerned, even jumped down and walked closer to the tv to see it. He was all alert and even looking nervously back at me for some feedback from time to time.

I thought it was interesting that he recognized a worrisome state in the view of a stranger on the screen - it was purely a visual of a face, and not one he knew. His brain is able to hold a general idea of facial expressions that can be applied to any human.

My daughter had a baby this year, so he has become aquainted with it and the idea of having a baby as part of our pack, so I guess it might be normal he reacts now to the sound of a baby crying.

But I still find it fascinating, the way dogs and humans have evolved to be so close!
edit on 2-2-2016 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 2 2016 @ 05:02 AM
There was a TV program on the other night called The Secret Life of Dogs. One lady said that her dog became very lethargic and sad and she thought he was ill but she began to notice that he would come near her breast and sniff and then wouldnt want a cuddle like usual but would just lie down. Something in her began to make a connection and she went to the doctors. They performed a mammogram and she was given the all clear.

One day she felt a tiny lump and was looking in the mirror and saw her dog staring back at her sadly and she knew it was cancer. She went back for more tests and had a biopsy and they found cancer.

When she got home after the surgery she said her dog came to sniff her and then was his normal jubiliant self as though he knew it had gone. It then went on to say dogs can even smell high sugar in diabetics as well as cancet. I think its amazing!a reply to: Bluesma

posted on Feb, 2 2016 @ 07:17 AM
Oh yeah... the way they've seen dogs picking up on a cancer...isn't that incredible??

I had (have) epicondylitis in both elbows. It is somewhat like tendinitis in the elbow? There is no observable difference in appearence. But my dog will lay next to me and lick the exact areas of the damaged and painful tendons for a long time when it is very painful.

He must be able to sense the inflammation - feel the heat or something. But I admit it seemed to help the pain (which is a mystery in itself).

I hadn't looked it up before today, but apparently there's a lot of research on this.
There's a general overview of the idea in this article-

can dogs recognize emotions in human faces?

One thing I have done a lot of experimenting with is whether an animal can follow and comprehend when you point at something.
When I got my first horse, Blue. It turned out that he did - he could be out in the field, and I'd call him, then could direct by which route I wanted him to approach by pointing my finger. This seemed impossible at first. I looked it up and most animal behaviorists claim that they cannot do this; that they will just stare at your finger.

So I became a bit obsessed with this for a while, showing friends and aquaintences how he did this. I never heard anyone come up with an alternative explaination.

I noticed that my dogs could follow such signals easily though. I point in a certain direction and say go, and they go that direction. We end up using such signals everyday without even thinking about it.
This seems a bit easier to explain, as dogs are predators who will chase after things in movement, and learn to chase objects we throw... so making the association between the gesture of the arm and the action of going in that direction isn't too far a stretch.

But horses? They don't go chasing after things you throw. Except maybe people who throw treats out for them to eat (I don't). Through the years I have found that that first horse was more of an exception than the rule - I've only worked with one other that had the same sort of ability.

edit on 2-2-2016 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)

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