Here's How to Tell If Your Dog Is Truly Happy to See You

Alexander Abad-Santos
Here's How to Tell If Your Dog Is Truly Happy to See You

Your dog could hate your guts. If you get home tonight and the little pup moves its right ear, it's time to get a new puppy. That's what animal behavior experts at the Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan, found after extensively studying the facial expressions and tics of 12 dogs.

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"If they were presented with an object they didn’t like, such as pair nail clippers, the animals moved their right ear," The Telegraph's Richard Gray wrote. "They found that the dogs tended to move their left eyebrow upwards around half a second after seeing their owner [or someone they like]," he adds.  

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Right ear bad; left eyebrow good. This is good to know in case you have a sneaking suspicion that your dog might be playing you and is only interested in the treats you give him or her (or if, quite simply, your dog isn't as emotive as this pup). "[E]yebrow movement might indicate a visible response where by dogs attempted to look at their owners more intently," says Dr. Miho Nagasawa, one of the researchers involved the study.

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And that eyebrow movement seems to be specifically attached to humans or something that elicits emotion. According to the study's abstract, the dogs' telling eyebrows didn't move when they were presented with attractive toys, which indicates that "dogs show facial laterality in response to emotional stimuli" rather than non-social stimuli like food, or a ball, or a ball full of food. 

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Now, wait, what's that you say?  No. We're not sure what to do if your dog is totally smiling at you while moving its right ear. That's a different story, for a different day. Now, here's video from the study, which includes a bunch of adorable pups with facial sensors :

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