Dogs And Human Emotions
In this post we take a look at dogs and human emotions. Do they really feel guilt after chewing your shoes? Were they being spiteful when they pooped on your new carpet? Let’s take a look and see:
Can Dogs Feel Human Emotions?
You’ve probably seen that guilty look on your dog’s face when they’ve caused some mischief. But, experts say dogs don’t experience human-like emotions.
When a dog seems guilty, like when they’ve chewed your favorite shoes, it’s more about how they react to your body language and tone of voice, rather than them feeling real guilt.
Still not convinced? Try this fun experiment:
- Walk into a room and let out a big sigh.
- Point to an imaginary puddle on the carpet.
- In an angry voice, ask, “Who did this?”
Chances are, your dog will give you that classic guilty look, even though they’re innocent!
For those with multiple dogs, they might think they can always spot the real culprit. But experts say it’s usually the most timid one that looks like they’re feeling ashamed. In reality, that “look of shame” is more about anxiety. When a dog cowers, avoids eye contact, or shakes, it’s a sign of fear, not guilt. If both dogs are anxious, they might both act “guilty.”
It is true that dogs feel Primary Emotions like happiness or fear.
However, they do not feel Secondary Emotions, which are more complex, like guilt or shame.
Dogs lack the brain capacity to feel these secondary emotions.
What they’re doing is showing submission because they can tell you’re upset.
The “puppy dog eyes” are their way of trying to make things right with you.
The best way to correct their behavior is to catch them in the act, so they learn what’s not okay. If you scold them for something they did a while ago, it just confuses them.
You might have seen funny pictures of dogs next to chewed-up slippers or destroyed sofas on social media. It really looks like guilt, but the dog is actually just feeling sad that you’re unhappy.
Have you ever thought your dog was being mean on purpose?
Well, the truth is, even if your dog tore up your favorite chair, it’s not about spite. He might have been bored or trying to get your attention, but he doesn’t have the capacity to be spiteful.
Dogs can react to things they don’t like out of fear or anxiety, but it’s not because they want to be mean. They’re just dealing with their emotions.
Sometimes, when dogs do things that seem “spiteful,” it’s just their way of getting you to notice them.
The relationship between humans and dogs has come a long way. Dogs can understand certain words and gestures, and some experts think they might start showing secondary emotions to some extent over time.
Think about it, domesticated dogs understand more than wild wolves, so why can’t emotional communication keep evolving?
But here’s the catch: this also depends on humans being able to read these emotional signals correctly.
One expert in this field is Dr. Alexandra Horowitz. She’s a professor of canine cognition at Barnard College, Columbia University, and she leads the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab. You can check out her website here, and her book ‘Inside of a Dog, What Dogs See, Smell, and Know’ is a highly recommended best-seller.
Interesting fact: Seventy percent of dog owners believe that their dogs show signs of guilt.
To sum it up, dogs and humans share a special bond. Dogs might not feel human-like emotions such as guilt or spite, but they do pick up on our feelings through body language and tone. They can understand simple commands and feel affection or unhappiness from us.
Remember, dogs and humans have their unique ways of connecting emotionally. It’s all about the love, companionship, and understanding we share, even if our emotional worlds are a bit different.