Why Your Dog Is Always So Happy To See You, As Explained By Science

Share

For those of us who have owned dogs, the best feeling in the world is your pup freaking out when you come home and licking your face a million times. I always assumed it was because I was the Master of Treats, but it turns out there's a scientific explanation for why your dog is so happy to see you. We already know that dog science is the best science, so let's take a closer look and bask in the glory that is a joyful puppy bouncing up and down happily just for you, shall we?

During a recent study conducted at Emory University and published in PeerJ Review, six dogs who had been trained to remain still without sedation or restraint (side note: Who trained them to do that? And can you please also fix my dog? Thanks), were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which allows scientists to watch your brain respond to stimuli in real time. The dogs were then showed videos of humans, other dogs, and objects — and guess what happened? You got it: The dogs were able to process and recognize faces belonging to living creatures, confirming that your canine pals pure excitement when you walk through the door has to do with recognizign your dumb mug, not just the expectation of impending treats and walks (ack, my heart). Plus, the study provided the first significant amount of evidence that primates are not the only creatures able to do this. Neat, right?

Now, the study did leave a few things out. The dogs reacted similarly to dog and human faces, so while it's definitely true that pups are like, "Oooh, a face!", it's still unclear whether they're also like "Oooh, a fellow doggle!" Maybe they're just like, "Face face face give me face look a face!" We don't know yet; more research would be required to determine what's going on here. The results were also inconclusive regarding a dog's ability to identify a familiar face versus a face they've never seen before (though I think my dog's visceral hatred of all bro-looking dudes proves that they know who's who), and whether dogs can differentiate between emotions.

Regardless of these test results, though, pretty much any dog owner will insist that their dog can sense what they're feeling and will actively work to bring them out of a bad mood. Because dogs are the best. Even if they scratch you and whip you with their tails and slobber too much. They're just so excited to see you. And your face.

Images: Giphy (2)