Do you observe your dog’s face?
“Of course,” you may be thinking. “I look at it dozens of times a day.”
That’s what I would have said until recently, when I read Patricia McConnell’s excellent book, For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend. That link takes you to Amazon and here is the link to my recent review of the book.
She has a photo section that shows dogs and humans smiling, frowning, threatening, etc. — and the similarity in facial expressions is stunning. We really have a lot in common with dogs.
Well, I knew this to a degree. I certainly thought of it in choosing the photo in the logo at the top of this page, which is a slightly-photoshopped picture of my LarryDog and me. I knew that his happy, alert look was what I wanted out of a series that my husband Kelly took, and I thought about LarryDog’s ears being forward. But I didn’t really think about the open mouth and relaxed jaw so much.
Lately I have been paying a lot more attention. It’s fascinating. I’ve discovered that Lola, our Rottweiler, wasn’t too fond of the way I was approaching her to pet her and I’ve taken to coming in lower, by squatting down first, for example. I noticed that because Lola was using what For the Love of a Dog calls a “whale eye,” where a lot of white is showing.
Here is LarryDog, in the original photo that the logo comes from. He’s definitely interested in something.
And here are three photos I just found on my hard drive, stock photos I had downloaded for some use in the past. These dogs look even happier than Larry:
Do observe your dog’s face and see what you notice!