What Emotions Do Dogs Feel? You or the biscuit: Do dogs feel love or are we just a meal ticket? Our dogs are loved, adored, and treated as family members. Ask any dog owner and they’ll say the dog returns their affection a thousand-fold. So an interesting question to ponder is “Do dogs have emotions like people?”
Do Dogs Feel Love?
Are those big puppy-dog eyes truly filled with love? Actually, yes, they probably are. Thanks to MRI scans of the canine brain, we have a window into how their mind works. It’s reassuring to discover that both people and dogs have similar areas in the brain linked to feeling emotion. To prove the point researchers placed a conscious dog in an MRI scanner. When his owner spoke, parts of the dog’s brain linked to affection (in humans) lit up. Expose the dog to the smell of a treat, and a different part of the brain activates. This confirms those puppy-dog eyes aren’t necessarily focused on the treat in your pocket.
Oxytocin, the Love Hormone
Actually, dogs and people share something else in common: The love hormone, oxytocin. This is the natural chemical produced when a mother nurses her baby, which helps her to form a rock-solid bond with the child. Scientists have measured oxytocin levels in owners looking at their dogs, and vice versa. Guess what? Gazing into the eyes of your ‘fur-baby’ or conversely a ‘hoo-mum’ and those oxytocin levels rise like an elevator in a skyscraper. With dogs possessing similar emotional centers and similar hormones to people, it does indeed seem that dogs feel similar emotions to people…up to a point.
What Other Emotions Do Dogs’ Feel?
Dogs are great listeners and don’t talk about you behind your back. OK, so dogs can’t speak…but their loyalty goes deeper than a language barrier. They don’t judge. Neither do they act out of spite or are motivated by pride. Happily, the emotional vocabulary of a dog is restricted to mostly positive emotions such as love and excitement. Dogs lack many of mankind’s less attractive qualities such as spite and pride. So apart from love, what other emotions do dogs feel? The trend for ‘pet parents’ and ‘fur babies’ is perhaps no coincidence because scientists tell us dogs have the emotional range of a two-year-old child. With a baby’s earliest emotions designed to bond with the caregiver (parent), this is great news for dog owners!
What Emotions Do Dogs Feel Up to the age of two, a child’s / dog’s positive feelings include contentment, excitement, joy, and love. On the negative side, these are anger, anxiety, distress, fear, and suspicion. All of these are ‘functional’ emotions, meant to help an individual survive in the big wide world. Once a child is approaching three years that’s when more subjective feelings creep in, such as contempt, disdain, guilt, pride, and shame. Happily, for dog owners (or should that be pet parents) their pet’s emotional development stops with the positivity of a two-year-old.
A Happy Dog is a Healthy Dog
A dog is most likely to be happy when all their emotional and physical needs are met. This means giving that dog plenty of walks and mind games. It also means to be content you should allow them to do doggy things like sniff and follow a scent trail. Place a rescue dog in a loving home and it’s easy to see the difference leading a full and active life makes to their emotional well-being.
PetPace for Happy Pets
An active dog is a happy dog, but how much exercise is right for them as an individual? From the flat-faced dog on a hot day to the portly pooch that needs to shed pounds, you don’t want to overdo things and endanger their health. Think of the PetPace collar as a Fitbit for dogs, monitoring their heart and respiratory rate, temperature, and activity level. PetPace helps you monitor your dog’s exercise and recognize if you’re over (or under) doing things. For example, knowing your dog’s temperature is invaluable for flat-faced breeds such as pugs, when out walking in hot weather. Do dogs have emotions like people? Yes, but emotionally dogs err towards a half-full rather than half-empty attitude. It’s therefore even more important that owners take care of their dog’s mental well-being by giving them the active life they deserve. Keep track, and build your pet’s fitness and mental well-being with a PetPace collar.