Dog facial expressions and what’s behind them

Dog facial expressions and what’s behind them

If you think of your dog, or any dog as a matter of fact you display a wide array of facial expressions. Your eyes shine, your lips curl up to a smile as everything is better with dogs. But did you know that spending time with you has changed your furry friend too? A recent study explains how dog facial expression has changed over the years.

A recent National Academy of Sciences study details how canine facial anatomy has changed over the last 33,000 years. This in-depth research took a look at the difference between facial structure and musculature in wolves versus domestic dogs. One fascination finding is the link between facial anatomy changes and behavioral changes in domestic dogs. It is a good explanation to the well known puppy eyes. Researchers hypothesize that dogs watched people displaying this face and observed the sad person receive nurturing support from other people. Dogs began to mimic this expression to get similar attention, and ultimately, their facial anatomy changed.

Your dog doesn’t make certain facial expressions unless you are there to see them. In other words, your dog knows what he is doing. And he has an ulterior motive, too. When he makes certain facial expressions, he knows what he wants, whether it’s a pat, a treat, a walk, or all of the above.

But what are the most common doggie facial expressions, and what do they mean? Let’s look at the 5 most popular of them.

The head tilt

If there is any canine expression that comes close to the effectiveness of puppy dog eyes, it is the equally adorable canine head tilt. Why do dogs tilt their heads? Your dog is trying to show you he’s curious or perhaps excited and eager.

Avoiding eye contact

A dog that seems to be deliberately avoiding eye contact with you may be fearful, anxious, or stressed out since this behavior signals a desire to avoid the interaction. Be especially aware of “whale eye,” which happens when your dog opens her eye wide because she’s nervous or afraid. If she does that, she may be ready to bolt.

The smile

Many experts believe that dogs have learned to smile because they’ve seen humans do the same or because we reward them for doing so, Stilwell said. At any rate, it usually means your dog is contented and happy. Woodard said the doggy smile is also known as a submissive grin, or a sign that your dog wants to appease you.

Blinking and squinting

There are a wide variety of reasons why your dog may blink or squint while gazing at you. It’s also important to realize your dog may be acting that way due to an eye injury or infection, debris in the eye, dry eye, or other conditions. If your dog often blinks or squints, consult with your veterinarian, and consider scheduling an eye exam. It also could mean your dog is confused, perhaps by your behavior or command you gave.

Showing their teeth

A show of teeth during a canine smile is quite natural. A show of teeth with flattened ears and a lip curl is a big deal. That expression could mean your dog is nervous or fearful. But if it’s accompanied by the obvious signs of excitement, tail wagging or jumping around then no reason to worry. Some pitbull type dogs have a habit of showing their teeth when getting excited and while some might find it frightening, I think it’s adorable.

Sources: Dogs Best Life, Huffpost

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