The Debate Over Dogs and Emotions

By Henri Hound

Does our dog know how we feel? Researchers now accept that dogs, and other animals, do possess primary emotions which include anxiety, fear, and anger, but they do not accept that they're capable of greater emotions including jealousy, sympathy or empathy.

They can say what they like, but I prefer to give animals the benefit of the doubt. I believe that higher animals, like dogs, are sensitive creatures with feelings and emotions.

Do you notice any of the following emotions in your dog?

Jealousy - For some dogs, hugging, kissing and outward affection between their humans is just not acceptable. They are going to regularly intervene by jumping on your lap or somehow splitting you apart. This looks like jealousy to me. Even so, they rarely appear to show this same behaviour with parents and babies. In reality with tiny young children they are more likely to become like a surrogate parent and shield the youngsters.

Aggressive dogs are frequently more aggressive when they sense that a person is afraid of them. Is it considering that they are able to see fear in their eyes or that their posture is cowering. They say the same thing about horses, that is most likely why I stay away from horses.

Almost every dog owner has experienced the difference in their dog when someone is sad, hurt or sick. You could argue that the dog observes your posture and appearance as submissive and, almost instinctively, approaches to find out and respond to the situation. Some say, when the dog sees you in a submissive posture, it feels it has to grovel to remain below you in rank, but I don't believe it..

Emulation - Dogs, like young children who reside in a pleasant, relaxed home, tend to be happier and more laid back themselves. The dog, in this situation senses your level of relaxation, figures out that absolutely nothing bad is going on and relaxes himself. This could be the reason that potentially aggressive dogs such as Pit Bulls usually are aggressive when living with high anxiety owners, though other Pit Bulls who live with mellow humans, tend to me mellow themselves.

Uncomfortable - What about after you have a fight with your spouse or a someone else close to you. They are going to often slink away and hide in an out of the way place. It might be argued that they just have no desire to listen to you, but they appear to sense this even if the argument is carried out quietly.

Guilt - The big one. When your dogs are caught soon after having had a jolly old time ripping apart your new boots and digging up the couch, they usually appear to show a true sense of guilt. Some say they're only reacting to your anger or disappointment and just associating this anger with actions in the past exactly where he may well have been punished. That may be true but I know dogs (for instance Henri) who have never been punished and who still act this way. I believe they're reacting because they know they have been bad and have upset you, not because they believe if they act guilty they won't be punished.

I know when I, or someone else in the family goes out and leaves the dogs alone, a lot of crying and whining goes on. Whether this is because they just don't want to be left behind or that they are truly sad, crying seems like an honest emotion to me.

My Conclusions

Just because there's no scientific proof of emotions in animals, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Let's not forget that we once believed the earth was flat!

From an evolutionary point of view, it would be very strange if dogs didn't have the ability to sense emotions. Dogs obviously have to understand behavior of themselves and others or they wouldn't have a clue as to what to do when he encounters new situations.

As far as I can see, our pets seem to respond to our emotions and react accordingly and I think that those who say otherwise can't have a good relationship with their pets

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