Do Dogs Actually Feel Emotions?
Dogs DO In Fact Feel Emotions – According to Science
Dog owners everywhere would agree that their beloved Fido has a plethora of emotions. Science has proven that dogs DO in fact feel emotions, but it’s important to note which emotions they actually feel, and which emotions we think they feel.
The Main Emotion We Want to Highlight, is the Feeling of LOVE
We, dog owners, love our fur babies to the moon and back. The amazing news is they can actually feel the emotion of love for us in return. It isn’t just in our heads! Research has found that dogs release the same “love chemical” as humans called Oxytocin, which leads us to believe the love feelings are indeed mutual.
The Love Between a Dog and a Goat
A researcher named Paul Zak from Claremont Graduate University decided to figure out just how this love chemical worked in non-human test subjects. He found the cutest pair of test subjects at an animal refuge in Arkansas. A small mixed breed terrier, and a goat! That’s right, a goat. Could this get any cuter? Probably not.
Zak allowed the two animals to play with each other for 15 minutes, and once that time was up, took samples to test their levels of Oxytocin. The conclusion was that the two animals were indeed quite fond of one another.
“We found that the dog had a 48 percent increase in oxytocin. This shows that the dog was quite attached to the goat. The moderate change in oxytocin suggests the dog viewed the goat as a ‘friend’,” said Zak, in an article originally published by The Atlantic.
Here’s the interesting (and also adorable) part of the results: the goat’s level of Oxytocin rose by 210%. This study indicated the goat was most likely in love with the terrier.
Zak stated in the article, “The only time I have seen such a surge in oxytocin in humans is when someone sees their loved one, is romantically attracted to someone, or is shown an enormous kindness.”
We hope this study makes you feel extra warm and fuzzy the next time your dog is showing signs of love, cause you can rest easy knowing it’s the real deal.
Dogs Feel the Basic Emotions of a 2-Year-Old Child
According to an emotional progression graph from Psychology Today, we can see that dogs feel basic emotions such as love, suspicion, joy, anger, fear, disgust, contentment, distress/anxiety, as well as excitement and arousal. These are similar to the emotions a 2-year-old child might experience.
Complex Emotions are Not Part of a Dog’s Emotional Range
However, the more complex emotions such as guilt, shame, pride, and contempt, are not proven to be part of a dog’s emotional range.
Some dog owners would argue that their dog does in fact show signs of feeling guilty. However, the signs they are seeing are most likely being mistaken for something else. Here’s an example:
You walk in the house after work and your dog has had an “accident”. Oops! When you find the little pooper, his ears are pinned back, his tail is between his legs, and he looks like a deer caught in the headlights. Naturally, you come to the conclusion your dog is showing signs of guilt. However, your dog is actually showing signs of fear. If your dog knows he is not allowed to go potty in the house, and has an accident, the fear of being punished will be expressed the moment you return home.
Understanding Our Dogs Emotions Can Help us Take Better Care of Them
We hope you learned something today to help you understand your dog on a deeper level. If we can understand how our dogs are feeling, we can anticipate and react to their needs better, which could ultimately lead to a healthier and happier quality of life for our beloved fur babies.
If you have any thoughts or questions, please let us know in the comments below!