Dogs tend to have an endless amount of interest in the lives and world around them, constantly wanting to know more. So what about dogs makes them so curious and how do they go about leading their lives full of awe?
Signs Dogs Can Feel Awe
Research has shown that our pups don’t have exactly the same range of emotions that we humans do. In fact, their emotional intelligence is that of a human toddler. However, dogs are dynamic creatures who do in fact have real feelings.
Even further, our canine companions are so in tune with their surroundings and the creatures they interact with that dogs can` sense how people are feeling too! While complex emotional states, like contempt, for instance, may be out of reach for man's best friend, feelings like love, sadness, wonderment, and awe are all basic experiences our dogs are fully capable of feeling.
Our pups do use their sight, but mainly rely on their sniffers and hearing to explore. If your pup is feeling curious and wondrous with its surroundings, you will likely see it written all over their face. Dog's tend to be filled with joy when they are out exploring, so prepare yourself for a sagging, drooling tongue, a wagging tail, or a snout hovering inches from the ground. You might even get to see those beloved puppy-dog eyes as your furry friend stumbles upon something new!
- Jumping up
- Wag tail
- Raise ears
- Licking or tasting the object of curiosity
- Pawing at the object of curiosity
- Intent listening
- The "zoomies"
- Other excited behavior
The History Behind Dogs Feeling Awe
Our pups have always been curious creatures, relying on wonderment and curiosity for survival, back when dogs once roamed the Earth as wolves. Simply put, the ability to feel awe or curiosity was necessary to hunt food and maintain the survival of the pack.
Back in the day, it was important that dogs be able to distinguish between potential threats and potential prey when they were in the wild. For example, wolves (and also our adorable puppers) react to sounds, movements, and smells. An urge to explore and gain further information was important in learning what was harmful or simply uninteresting.
Therefore, a feeling of awe in addition to natural instinct was needed in these types of situations. Through the process of domestication, our pups have maintained the ability to feel awe. However, it is much more likely that simple curiosity, rather than the need to survive, will be the drive in a new intriguing situation.
The Science Behind Dogs Feeling Awe
Research has also determined that of the similar hormones dogs are able to experience, oxytocin is a prominent one. Just like in us, oxytocin is involved with feeling love. Thus, science has led researchers to hypothesize just how many emotions dogs have in common with humans. With similar neurology and brain chemistry, it seems only plausible that dogs also have emotions that are similar to ours.
However, researchers and animal behaviorists have learned of some limitations to our doggie counterparts. Science shows that the brain of a dog is roughly similar in size and function to that of a human toddler around the age of two-and-a-half years old. Because of this, we can conclude that our dogs have the capability to feel and express emotions similar to those of a human toddler.
This means that while our pups clearly have and exhibit emotions, they have a smaller range of emotions than adult humans have. However, scientists agree that dogs, for the most part, have the capacity to feel affection, love, suspicion, shyness, joy, anger, fear, disgust, contentment, distress, excitement, arousal, and awe. While a human’s emotional capacity develops over the years, a dog reaches "emotional maturity" at around six months.
Training Your Dog to Feel Awe
- Keep your pup from jumping on guests so they don't end up hurting someone
- Teach your dog the "leave it" command to keep your dog from getting into something important or dangerous
- Use proper leash techniques so your pup knows when to leave something alone or doesn't get into something dangerous
How to React to Your Dog Feeling Awe:
Keep a close eye on your pup for safety reasons.
Remember you are their leader of the pack, so maintain control.
Let your dog explore, but within reason.
Boundaries are a good way to exercise control and leadership.