Dogs are not only good at reading our body language and seeing the expression of our emotions. Dogs can even smell our emotions!
All dog lovers will agree that these animals are incredibly sensitive to the recognition of human emotions, but how do they do it? Of course, they can “read” the slightest signals of body language, but this is not the only explanation. There’s one more important thing, dogs don’t only SEE expression of emotions, but also SMELL them!
How do dogs smell emotions?
The thing is that different mental and physical states change the level of hormones in the human body and a dog’s extremely sensitive nose can identify those changes with ease. That’s why our dogs know when we are upset, scared or when we feel unwell.
This dogs “superpower” is one of the main reasons they become great therapists. Dogs help people to cope with anxiety, depression and other unpleasant states of mind and body.
What emotions do the dogs recognize best?
Researchers from the University of Naples and Biagio D’aniello in particular, conducted a series of experiments to find out whether dogs can smell human emotions. Forty dogs (labradors and golden retrievers) and their owners were involved in the research.
People were divided into three groups, each of which was shown videos. The first group watched a frightening video, the second one – a funny one, the third – a neutral one. After that, the participants of the experiment passed their sweat samples and the dogs sniffed these samples in the presence of both owners and strangers.
It turned out that the smell of frightened people caused dogs’ strongest reactions. In these cases, the dogs showed signs of stress, such as heart palpitations. In addition, the dogs avoided looking at strangers, but sought eye contact with their owners.
The researchers came to the conclusion that the dogs didn’t just feel people’s fear, but that fear was also transmitted to them and that means the dogs clearly showed empathy.