Are Dogs People Too? Study Suggests Canines Can Understand Emotions
A new study suggests that there is a good chance your dog can actually understand you, and even know exactly what mood you're in.
According to researchers in Hungary, dogs have voice areas in the same part of their brains that humans do. This would indicate that both species can understand vocal tones that express different emotions, like happiness, anger, distress, or fear.
Harris Faulkner interviewed veterinarian Heather Loenser and her canine "assistant" Jasper on the Fox News Deck about the findings.
"I think we [humans and canines] have a lot of similarities, but I think our animals do a better job of leaving out more of the emotions that are not helpful, like guilt and revenge and spite," Loenser said.
Loenser pointed out that she appreciated the fact that the researchers didn't sedate the dogs while they did the study. "I loved how they actually did the study where they didn't sedate the dogs for the MRI. They trained them to hop up on the MRI, and lay there quietly so they could look at their brain activity," said Loenser.
"The fact that they were conscious let us really know that they did, in fact, have positive responses to the sounds of people laughing, and they also had positive responses to dogs doing things like play barking."
But are dogs better at detecting our emotions than other people?
Dr. Loenser thinks it depends on the particular bond between a canine and his owner. Loenser said her dog, Jasper, can detect when she is stressed and will seek her out and lean on her to bring down her heart rate and blood pressure.
Harris Faulkner related the experience of her niece drawing comfort from her dog, Mr. Bean, to that of Dr. Loenser. "This is real," Faulkner said. "This is not this child's interpretation of this."
What do you think? Are dogs more similar to humans than we realize?
See the full segment above.