For a long time, ethologists, or animal behavior experts, believed that dogs’ smiles were simply a muscular reflex rather than a reflection of their feelings. However, in recent years, this idea has been called into question.
Dogs’ limbic system has undergone a series of changes as a result of their lengthy history of domestication, improving their ability to interact with other animals and adapt with human families. We now know that our four-legged buddies share some neural mechanisms with us, which explains why they can understand human nonverbal language, thanks to new studies in cognitive ethology.
This recent research has also discovered that when social animals, such as monkeys and dogs, feel comfortable, their faces change. In the case of our furry friends, if they are happy and enjoying themselves, they can adjust their facial expression and make a smile to indicate their feelings.
Why Do Dogs Smile?
A dog may smile for a variety of reasons. However, these reasons, like human beings, are entirely subjective. In other words, what makes one dog happy is not the same as what makes another one happy. When it comes to understanding why a dog smiles, though, there are several factors to consider.
- A dog, unlike humans, does not smile because he finds something amusing, such as a joke or a comedic situation.
- When a dog is calm and relaxed, he usually smiles. As a result, we can claim that when a dog is happy, he smiles.
- When displaying submission to their owners, some dogs also smile. The result of the muscle relaxation that occurs under these circumstances is what is known as a submissive smile.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Smiling?
The smile of a dog is very similar to that of a human. A happy dog will have an open mouth, relaxed facial muscles, and his mouth corners turned up. It can also pant and flash its teeth from time to time.
It’s important to remember that, while some people are terrified when dogs show their teeth, this look isn’t usually indicative of an aggressive attitude. In fact, it’s frequently included in a series of facial expressions that indicate happiness.
When assessing your dog’s mood, it’s important to consider the setting and situation, as well as the rest of his body’s attitude. In the case of the submissive smile, dogs frequently display the following expressions in addition to showing their front teeth: tail wagging, head bowing, ears flattening, eyes squinting, and a soft body stance.
We now know for certain that a dog, like people, can smile when they are happy, thanks to science. So now you know: if you want your dog to smile more, make sure he notices everything that makes him happy.