You might have heard about the Japanese dog Hachiko who used to come to the station every day at the exact time when it’s owner gets back from his work. One day the owner went to his work and never came back and Hachiko every day went to the station at the same time and waited for the owner until he died. Isn’t it beautiful? How emotional a dog can be? What are the emotions which a dog can feel? Why is it important to know about a dog’s emotions? This blog is all about answering these questions.
Some people believed that dogs can understand almost everything that humans do. They can feel it in the same way humans feel, whereas some people believed that they are like machines filled with programs but not with feelings. Dog’s emotions were not much considered and they were thought to be emotionless.
what do we know now about dog’s emotions?
Now we know that dogs have all sorts of emotions as they have a similar brain structure to humans. The hormones in them are the same and the same chemical changes occur in their body.
Therefore emotions in dogs are similar to humans but the range may be different. Also, a dog can understand humans, unlike any other species. They have great sensing power. They can easily sense that you are happy, sad or depressed and also can read your facial expressions. There are many explanations for this, one of which is their powerful hearing ability. Recent studies have shown that dogs process human emotions based only on vocalizations.
dog’s emotions and human emotions- a Brief comparison
Researches on the emotions of humans form the basis of understanding dog’s emotions. Even humans experience different emotions at different times of their lives. Sometimes you find yourself filled with love and during different phases, you have different emotional feelings. Also, you may experience many emotions at the same time but ranges may be different. Human babies have a limited range of emotions. As a baby grows emotions differentiate and develop. Dog’s emotions are somewhat like a two to three years old human baby.
If we go through the emotions which a human baby can experience then we will get to know there are only very few emotions like fear, anger, excitement and disgust. As the baby grows older (6 months to a year) you can easily observe emotions like joy, happiness, shyness, etc.
Complex emotions which are acquired by learning social emotions like pride shame and guilt cannot be seen in a baby of 5 or 6 months of age. These emotions develop after 6 months.
Dogs age much earlier than human beings as they have an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years. read more about dog age in human years.
Almost all dogs achieve all their emotional range by the time they are four to six months of age but it also depends on the breed of the dog.
But as mentioned a two to three-year-old human baby can experience simple emotions but not complex emotions like guilt and pride. Dog’s emotions are simple like emotions of a human baby. They also cannot experience complex emotions. So a dog experiences only a few basic emotions like- fear, love, anticipation, jealousy, sadness, depression anxiety, etc.
Many dogs are very brave but they do fear of many other animals and also human beings. This emotion is important to save their lives.
Dog shows the emotion of joy in many ways. When you come home your dog starts jumping over you. When you bring him a new toy or something that he loves, it makes him happy and his happiness makes you happy too.
Like humans dogs also produce the love hormone “oxytocin”. Many times pets come close to us and want us to pat them or to love them. Sometimes they also start licking. This is their way of showing love and affection.
You can easily witness your dog showing emotion of jealousy but it is much different from humans. It is more like possessiveness in the case of dogs.
It is important to know if your dog is dealing with anxiety. Many signs like sleeping at odd times, moving back and forth are the signs of an anxious dog. You need to take more care if your dog is dealing with anxiety. Read more
Some of you may point out that you have seen your dog feeling pride or guilt. But we judge animals according to the way we feel.
Let me explain with the help of an example. We all teach our dogs how to behave, where to pee etc. You may have seen that when your dog disobeys you like peeing on the bed, he will try to hide. And we see it as guilt but it is fear of being punished. The dog cannot feel guilty as dog’s emotions are simple and it is a complex emotion.
Knowing about your pet also includes that you should know how he feels. Is he happy or depressed? Knowing about their emotions will help you to understand your pets better and you can provide them a comfortable, healthy and happy life. Dogs are very simple yet very intelligent animals which also makes them a very good companions.
Happy pet parenting 🙂