Looking further into how cats and dogs modify their behaviour to gain approval from humans, a few interesting behaviours were thrown up that indicate that our pets may be even smarter than we realised when it comes to manipulating us.
I thought my cat and dog loving readership may be interested in a few things that I found out.
Dogs in Rescue Centres that raise their brows around twenty times are about twice as likely to get adopted as dogs that only did this around five times. Evolutionary Psychologists concluded that this effect takes place as the brow-raising action made even more senior dogs appear more puppy-like and appealing to a prospective new owner. (source)
Cat owners may be interested to learn that the impact of a cat's facial expressions were also studied and it was concluded that no correlation could be made. What researchers have found though is that cats that frequently rubbed their bodies against toys and furniture in a Rescue Centre environment were adopted around 30% more quickly than those that didn't exhibit the behaviour. (source)
Canines are no strangers to adapting their behaviours to mix with us. One hypothesis is that wolves went through a period of self-domestication during the agricultural revolution as the tamer wolves were known to have scavenged from human settlements.
Cat owners may be familiar with the fact that adult cats have evolved to generally only meow to communicate with us humans to gain attention/food etc. from us but studies have also shown that not only do they use this to communicate but also to mimic the sound of human babies as they have learned that we pay attention to this.
Another interesting thing about adoption centres - dogs that wag their tails a lot were not linked to being more quickly adopted, in fact maybe surprisingly dogs that wagged their tails were shown to spend longer periods in rescue before being re-homed.