While we know that staring at a dog can cause some dogs to be nervous, uncomfortable and even aggressive, researchers are learning there may be benefits to flashing those pearly whites at your dog more often.
#1 – Your Dog Understands
A research team of cognitive scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, has shown that dogs* can tell the difference between a happy and angry human face. AND, that it affects the way they act. When a smiley (happy) face is shown to the dog, they are quicker to respond, even if they were trained that the frowny (angry) face meant a reward. (*dogs that have had regular and positive interactions with humans to “learn” facial expressions)
#2 –It Boosts Your Mood
It has been proven over and over again that smiling boosts your mood. So why not smile at your dog more? Having a bad day? Nothing like looking at your best friend and smiling for no reason to boost your mood.
#3 – It Makes Training Easier
Since science has proven that dog’s respond quicker to a smile, a happy trainer will get more out of their dog than a grumpy one. Just be sure to not smile if your dog is doing something you don’t want to reinforce (even if it’s adorable!)
#4 – Your dog may even smile back
Why not? Dogs are as smart as toddlers, recent studies show, so your dog just might mimic you and open up his mouth in a similar “smile.” Due it enough, and it can become a trick! You smile at your dog, he “smiles” back!
#5 – Your dog will be more likely to come to you
Since dogs can (and do!) understand facial expressions, if you are frowning and grumpy, your dog is not as likely to come you. However, smile, crouch low and be happy, and your dog will be far more likely to come running!