According To Research, Our Dogs Do Manipulate Us

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Admittedly, as a fur parent, the hardest thing to resist in this world is your little pooch’s puppy dog eyes.

And if you ever wondered if your furry friend knew how to get what they want – according to numerous research, the answer is yes!

The Art Of Puppy Eyes

The “puppy dog eyes” that makes our furry friends so irresistible may have evolved through our domestication of different dog breeds.

According to a 2019 research by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), our domestication of dogs transformed their facial muscles to specifically communicate with us.

The study says that a muscle responsible for raising the inner eyebrows intensely is something dogs have, but wolves don’t have.

Interestingly, such action resembles that of a human sad expression. And when done by dogs, triggers a nurturing response from humans.

Border Collie With Puppy Dog Eyes Closeup Hanging On Bench
SakSa / Shutterstock.com

Furthermore, the researchers said that humans tend to go for dogs that showcase infant-like features like a large forehead and large eyes.

The study also suggests, “The most remarkable among dogs’ behavioral adaptations, as a result of selection during domestication, is their ability to read and use human communication in ways that other animals cannot.”

So, by doing the “puppy dog eyes”, dogs know that they’ll definitely get what they want – whether it’s food, toys or just attention from their humans.

Another research presented during the annual Experimental Biology in 2022 further solidifies this. It shows that the facial muscle of dogs have a higher proportion of “fast-twitch” muscle fibers than wolves, which lets dogs communicate better and faster with humans.

According to the study, “Percentage of fast-twitch fibers in dog samples ranged from 66%-95% and wolves averaged around 25%.”

For reference, the muscles in humans’ faces are mostly made up of “fast-twitch” muscle fibers, which lets us express our thoughts immediately.

This suggests that the fast-twitch fibers in dogs’ faces is now closer to that of humans. And their facial expressions have evolved to improve their connection with humans.

Master Manipaw-lators

Other than their cute “puppy dog eyes”, dogs also know how to deceive us in others ways to get what they want.

A 2017 study from a team of researchers from the University of Zurich suggests that dogs are capable of tactical deception. The team conducted an experiment using 27 dogs to look into this.

During the experiment, each dog is paired with two human partners – one who’s more lenient or ‘cooperative’ with treats, and one who’s more strict or ‘competitive’.

And when the dogs learned who’s who, they had to lead their human partners to one of three boxes: one with a sausage, one with a non-preferred treat and one that’s empty.

Cute Labrador Retriever With Sad Puppy Eyes Holding Dog Bowl In His Mouth
Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock.com

On the first day, the dogs led the cooperative partner to the sausage box more often than the competitive partner.

And on the second day, the dogs have even led the competitive partner less often to the sausage box, and more often to the empty box.

This suggests that dogs are able to distinguish human behaviors and know how to use these behaviors for their benefit.

Daphna Buchsbaum, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s department of psychology, says that this is a good step in studying dogs’ social reasoning abilities.

However, she also believes that there needs to be more studies conducted to definitely say that dogs are deceptive.

Final Thoughts

Dogs have truly evolved to communicate more efficiently with humans to fit different situations, needs and wants.

And while more studies will be conducted in the future to solidify that dogs are indeed master manipaw-lators, one thing is certain – it’s difficult to say no to our fur babies’ “puppy dog eyes” and antics.

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