Can dogs smile?
The other day someone saw this photo of the Boys on my phone and commented on the fact that Harley was smiling for the camera…
Afterwards, they asked me –
Can dog’s smile?
“To tell you the truth, I don’t know” was my reply.
According to Victoria Schade –
Dogs use their bodies to express happiness in many ways, but a true human-style smile isn’t normally one of them. We’re looking at happy dogs engaged in activities they enjoy, like playing or running, and translating their wide, panting mouths into smiles. The canine equivalent of a smile is a bouncy body, a loose tail wag, and a facial expression with soft eyes and a relaxed mouth and ears.PetMD
The intellectual part of me wants to believe and accept this answer as truth.
Yet the pet parent in me flips through additional photos like this one, and thinks – this looks like a smile to me…
PROJECTING BODY LANGUAGE –
Could it be that I am projecting my own body language into the equation when I think about their behavior?
Some experts agree that dogs smile because they know we humans love to see it. They’ve learned that our smiles are positive attempts of communication and they are mimicking our behavior.
Sound a little over the top?
If we truly understand dog cognition – then a dog learning how to smile from observing us makes a great deal of sense.
It’s very similar to how we believe some dogs can speak words. Whatever sound we hear from them that we believe to be a word, we reinforce the noise resembling the word and they continue to do it.
SO… CAN DOGS SMILE? –
What do you think? Can they?
According to our beloved dictionary, the word smile is defined as –
a facial expression in which the eyes brighten and the corners of the mouth curve slightly upward and which expresses especially amusement, pleasure, approval, or sometimes scorn. A pleasant or encouraging appearance.Merriam-Webster
Don’t know about you, but based on that definition, I’m betting ALL my benjamins that Harley is sporting a smile…
At the end of the day, one has to just ask –
is a smiling dog really smiling?
Reading this summed it up for me –
It’s safe to say that smiles are essential to the human body language vocabulary. We smile to manipulate other people as often and as naturally as we smile to connect with them. Why then shouldn’t dogs, who have spent the past fifteen millennia becoming masters of non-verbal communication with humans, be able to do the same?Whole Dog Journal
HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT –
Over the weekend, pay attention to your pup. When you see that –
- upturned mouth
- lips pulled back,
- eyes and brows relaxed
- tail wagging –
remember what happened to bring all that on. And while dog behaviorists give us the “scientific based” response about the expressions of our precious pups – tell me if you don’t say to yourself –
Yep, my dog is smiling!
A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear ❤️