When you’ve had a rough day, does your best, furry friend know? Can he or she tell when you are sad just by the sound of your voice? According to researchers in Hungry, evidence suggests that dogs can tell whether you are happy or sad just by listening to you talk. Over the past few years, researches have used an advanced type of MRI machine to peer inside the minds of dogs. They have used positive reinforcement training to study a group of 11 dogs in order to find out what most of us already know – your dog can physically sense and now “hear” your emotions.
While in the MRI, the researches played a variety of sounds while the dogs lied in the scanner. The brain of a dog appears to have a dedicated area in the brain that reacts to voices (both dogs barking and humans talking) over other noises such as a car driving past or the sound of something breaking. Also this area appears to show more activity when a positive sound is heard over a negative sound. The brain reacted differently when dogs heard sounds of human laughter over a human crying. Of course there is no way to tell what exactly is going on at the moment in the brain, but researches say the evidence from these studies shows dogs know the difference between sad and happy sounds.
Results from this study also prove that humans and dogs seem to have a similar mechanism to processes social information. This may explain why vocal communication between the two species is so effortless and successful. So next time you are feeling down in the dumps or you are having the best day ever, remember just by hearing your voice, your dog can tell! It’s just another way dogs and humans are becoming more connected than ever.