cynoclub/iStock/Getty Images "Tastes like human."
"Aaaaargh! Look what the beast did to me! It should be put down!"
MoustacheGirl/iStock/Getty Images "I've only got four months left of sad-puppy-eyes-ing my way out. I need to make them count."
It's an all-too-common scenario that is often bad news for little Barkley, especially if he happens to be a pit bull or some other breed with an aggressive reputation. It's also one that could be easily avoided by realizing one simple thing: that grin on the pretty doggy's face isn't a smile.
This one might seem pretty obvious, seeing as teeth are what a dog defends itself with, but a shocking number of otherwise sane and responsible pet owners still seem to think that their dog is smiling like a person when it's showing teeth.
CREATISTA/iStock/Getty Images You know, just like how humans greet by pulling a gun on one another.
Here's a quick rundown on the fairly limited expressions of the gaping, predatory maw that is the mouth of your precious pooch. A happy dog generally has its mouth closed or partially open, with no visible teeth. If the mouth is widely opened, the dog might just be cooling itself down by panting. If there's a visible array of teeth, fucking walk away.
A dog pulling its lips back to bare its teeth might look a bit like it's smiling, but it's actually just keeping its weapons handy. There are several variations of toothy "grins," all unleashed because the dog is feeling frightened, angry, or outright ready to attack. Hell, an aggressive dog can even communicate its intentions via an "aggressive pucker," where it puffs its lips like it's about to smooch you. In this event, do not attempt to kiss it, and even if you do, under all circumstances refrain from Frenching. You don't want to explain that one in the E.R.
monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images "Yeah, let's see you 'I slipped in the shower' your way out of this one."
The closest a dog can come to physically smiling is the "submissive grin," where the dog curls its upper lip to display front teeth, which ironically seems a lot like a threatening gesture but is actually just the dog's way of saying it feels intimidated and poses no threat to the challenger.
Pareidolia is a fun thing when it comes to seeing faces on the moon and shapes in the clouds, but this is one occasion where it is very much an enemy. It's no surprise that dogs can use their faces to signal emotions like humans -- hell, a recent study revealed even mice can do the same thing. However, just because several species signal emotions with their faces, it does not mean that each species uses the same signal for the same reason or to communicate the same things.
RayTango/iStock/Getty Images Except for cats, for whom all facial expressions mean the same thing: contempt.
Look, we're not saying that your dog doesn't love you or anything. It totally does. But if you love it back, take time to learn how to speak its language.
For more reasons you're bad for animals, check out 6 Stupid Things Pet Owners Need to Stop Doing Now. And then check out 28 Real Animal Abilities You Won't Believe.