Confirmed: Dogs would rather watch people hugging than dogs ‘hugging’

Dogs are experts at reading other dogs’ body language, and also at interpreting human faces for cues as to intention and mood. Like people, dogs study the area around the eyes on the right side of a person’s face, where human emotions appear most intensely. But exactly how similar are dogs’ social reading skills to our own, and vice versa? In a first experiment of its kind, scientists compared humans and dogs when looking at everyday scenes. They recorded 46 dogs’ and 26 humans’ eye movements when watching two people hugging or walking away from each other, and when looking at two dogs greeting or facing away. Each dog was trained to lie down and face a monitor where photos appeared, and the people looked at the same images. As the dogs and people looked at images, an eye-tracking device recorded the focus of their gaze. Dogs and people both gazed longer at scenes showing hugging or interaction than they did at images showing people or dogs facing away, as shown in the photo above, in which red circles show the areas the dogs were most intent on and blue circles show where people fixated.

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