A team of researchers chose dogs to explore babies' ability to read emotions because they are such highly communicative creatures.
Kids and dogs make cute pairs, but there's more than just mutual adoration going on when the two get together. A Brigham Young University study has shown that infants as young as 6 months old can distinguish between angry snarls and friendly barks.
"Emotion is one of the first things babies pick up on in their social world," says BYU psychology professor Ross Flom, who led the study.
Babies participating in the experiment (all of whom had a dog living in their home) where shown two different photos of the same dog: one who looked aggressive, the other more friendly. Researchers then played audio clips of a friendly bark and an aggressive bark. As they listened to the recordings, researchers noted that the babies spent most of their time staring at the photo that matched the barks.