If you own a dog, you know that there is a unique bond that the two of you share.
If you’re happy, they usually are, and if you get angry with them, you’re going to get one of those head down, social media-shaming looks in return.
Now a new study, led by Brigham Young University psychology professor Ross Flom, shows that our actions and reactions to things do determine how your dog may — or may not — respond to you in the way you want.
“We know that dogs are sensitive to our emotional cues,” Flom said in a university release. “But we wanted to know: Do they use these emotional cues?”
Flom and his team conducted two experiments where a person pointed to a hidden reward, first displaying positive behaviors (smiling, speaking in a pleasant tone) and then negative (frowning, a furrowed brow, speaking in a harsh tone). They found that the dogs use the human emotions to determine how quickly or how slowly they go and explore an unfamiliar location.
“While positive behaviors didn’t improve response time from the control group, negative behaviors, which simulated emotions closely tied to anger, delayed the response time,” the release reports.
Flom’s research team also included BYU masters’ student in psychology Peggy Gartman as a co-author; and Darren Gunther, James Parker and Will West undergrads.
“One take home message of this study is that dogs are very good at following our pointing gestures,” Flom said. “Dog use our emotions … in determining how quickly or how slowly they are going to go explore an unfamiliar location.
“This study highlights something that we all know and believe and hold dear to our heart, particularly those of us that are animal lovers: There is a unique and special bond between humans and dogs.”