We know that you're pretty well-versed with your pup's emotions and spunky personality, so it may seem silly when someone asks you: "can a dog actually get mad?"
Of course, he can! You've seen it in the way he pouts in the corner when you don't take him for this third walk of the day, or in his sassy barks when you just don't have time to play again. Your dog reacts to things he doesn't like or that annoy him (have you ever come home to a chewed up sofa after leaving your pooch alone for too long?)
Though scientifically speaking, your dog reacting to stimuli isn't the same emotional and mental process as a human being decidedly angry, as your pup's brain isn't quite laid out the same way. Dogs do react to stimuli, but you shouldn't consider it payback or something similar - it probably means your dog just needs more stimulation.
It goes without saying though, that those triggers can definitely manifest themselves in behaviors that are impromptu, immediate, and never harbored by grudges or characterized as retribution.
Signs Your Pooch Might Be a Little Angry With You
You're probably pretty aware of your dog's sassy signs by now, but if you're a new pup owner and aren't quite sure what to look for, it's important to learn how to recognize signs that your dog is upset with you. We know dogs aren't human, but it can be painful how human they can act, and often, the signs that they're mad at you can be pretty similar to the signs in human beings. If you're thinking your pup might be mad at you, but you're not sure, check for these tells your dog may be giving you.
If your dog ignores you, he's probably a little peeved. That's right, pups can give you the silent treatment, and they often will if you get on their nerves. Dogs will even give you a little bat if they're upset at you - nothing serious, but a little slap with their paws to tell you that enough is enough.
They'll give you long, blank stares as if to say "just what the heck are you thinkin', dude?" It's the ultimate diss. They'll even go entirely out of their way to break a rule. Like, if your pooch knows you hate it when you chew on his shoes, and typically obliges by the "no shoe" rule, he might run into your closet straight away, grab a shoe, and make it his favorite chew toy. They might go as far as having "accidents" in the house on purpose just to frustrate you.
History of Canine Tempers
Your dog is a living, breathing, functioning animal with complex thoughts, emotions, and feelings, however, it's important to recognize those feelings and emotions are quite different from human emotions. Instead, think of doggo emotions like reactions to the stimuli around them.
While your dog may react to things it doesn't like - being pet a certain way, not going for an extra walk, being left alone - that doesn't mean your pooch is angry at you. According to research from dog-tors, behaviorists, and scientists, pups who have been analyzed for case studies typically show signs of rage instead of vengeful, angry behavior. This can result in aggression, acting out, frustration, and breaking established rules.
The Science Behind Dogs Being Mad
Your dog can definitely give you signs that he's upset, and as people, we're known to be guilty of anthropomorphism - or giving our animals human emotions (even if sometimes they don't have them).
But it's important to remember that even if your dogs react to certain things and feel certain things, they don't have the same emotions as people. That being said, much of their impromptu reactions can be determined as small acts of rage, rather than decided anger.
Scientists say that dogs likely just live in the moment, making their acts of anger really just responses to the stimuli in front of them.
Does your dog ripping up your couch mean that he hates you? No, but it might mean that he's not a big fan of being left home alone. Does your dog have vengeful thoughts or want to take out his anger on you? Not directly,
How To Train Your Dog to Deal With His Anger
Training your pup to deal with his anger issues will require some training on your part, too.
Firstly, it's important that you crate train your doggo if you know that leaving him alone for more than a few hours will result in a reign of terror. Make his crate a positive, comfortable place where he can cycle through his emotions calmly.
Additionally, strict reward training for positive behavior will help your pup deal with his irrational rage fits, too. There's also something to be said for giving your dog the same treatment as he gives you, to some degree. If your dog is being irrational, angry, or mad, ignore him. Give him some time to adjust and realize that you won't give him attention when he's acting out.
Written by a Great Dane lover Hanna Marcus
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/05/2018, edited: 04/06/2020