A languid eye, raised eyebrows, tilted head: that sort of face, humans know him well. Here we go again, Fido is hungry and wants to bribe me.
Now a new scientific study on canine expressiveness goes deeper and makes some hypotheses about the meaning of our friend's grimaces. Which apparently have nothing to do with the request for food, nor do they reflect the animal's state of mind: rather, they seem to be the way to get our attention, to get involved without manipulating us.
Front or back. In the research of the University of Portsmouth (Great Britain), published in Scientific Reports, 24 dogs of various races between 1 and 12 years of age were involved, interacting with a researcher in 4 different situations: while the scientist was facing of them, with or without food in their hands, and while giving them their backs (again with or without food).
Look at me, look at me! When they found themselves face to face with the man - who didn't look at them directly, so as not to affect them emotionally - the dogs produced twice as many facial expressions as usual. In particular they performed in the classic expression "as a puppy", with wide-open eyes, universally held to be tender. The presence or absence of food did not affect the number of smilies produced.
So I spread it. Past research has shown that food is more exciting for dogs than many human interactions, so there must be something different from emotions, the basis of canine expressions. Perhaps the need to establish contact with man, through a signal that - like millennia of domestication have taught dogs - does not leave us indifferent. The study does not explain whether this canine effort is intentional, nor what it means. The next searches will be to ascertain it.