I recently read an interesting study that revolved around the facial expressions of dogs and cats and whether or not pets actually changed their facial expressions to gain approval from humans in a Rescue Center environment.
Looking further into how cats and dogs modify their behavior to gain approval from humans, a few interesting behaviors were thrown up that indicate that our pets may be even smarter than we realized when it comes to manipulating us.
I thought my cat and dog loving readership may be interested in a few things that I found out.
Dogs in Rescue Centers that raise their brows around twenty times are about twice as likely to get adopted as dogs that only did this around five times. Evolutionary Psychologists concluded that this effect takes place as the brow-raising action made even more senior dogs appear more puppy-like and appealing to a prospective new owner. (source)
Cat owners may be interested to learn that the impact of a cat's facial expressions were also studied and it was concluded that no correlation could be made. What researchers did found though is that cats who frequently rubbed their bodies against toys and furniture in a Rescue Center environment were adopted around 30% more quickly than those that didn't exhibit the behavior. (source)
Canines are no strangers to adapting their behaviors to mix with us. One hypothesis is that dogs went through a period of self-domestication during history as the tamer dogs were known to have scavenged from human settlements.
Cat owners may be familiar with the fact that adult cats have evolved to generally only meow to communicate with us humans to gain attention/food etc. from us. Studies have also shown that not only do they use this to communicate but also to mimic the sound of human babies as they have learned that we pay attention to this.
Another interesting thing about adoption centers - dogs that wag their tails a lot were not linked to being more quickly adopted, in fact maybe surprisingly dogs that wagged their tails were shown to spend longer periods in rescue before being re-homed.
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