4 min read


Can Dogs Feel Betrayal?



4 min read


Can Dogs Feel Betrayal?


The feeling of betrayal is a dreadful one, as anyone that has ever experienced it knows. We can feel betrayal for many different reasons but no matter what the cause, it can cause us to feel very sad, hurt, used, and angry. 

Many dog owners also believe that their dogs can feel betrayal because some of the signs that dog display when they feel certain emotions are very similar to the ones we might display when we feel as though we have been the victims of betrayal. However, dogs do not have any concept of what betrayal means and, therefore, they do not feel betrayal in the same way as we would. 


Signs Your Dog Feels Distressed

Dogs may display a variety of signs that we would construe as being signs of feeling betrayal. However, you need to remember that dogs do not know what betrayal is. That said, they do feel emotions that come across as feeling betrayed. This could be disappointment rather than betrayal but most dog owners would see these signs as indicators that their pooch feels betrayed in some way. 

As an example, if you have two dogs and give one of them special treatment, the other dog won’t feel betrayed in the way that we would feel betrayed if our best friend or partner started paying someone else more attention. However, they may feel disappointed and distressed.

Some of the signs to look out for when it comes to your dog feeling this way include tail tucking and generally moping around with a long face. Some dogs may even make a point of ignoring you and walking away – just like humans do if they come face to face with someone that they feel has betrayed them. Other dogs may try to get your attention so that you can rectify the situation that is causing them to feel distressed. Some of the common ways of doing this is following you around, staring intently at you, or pawing at you. 

Body Language

Signs your dog is feeling distress include:

  • Dropped Ears
  • Averting Eyes
  • Tail Tucking
  • Paw Raised

Other Signs

<p>More ways a dog will show this emotion are:</p>

  • Dismissive Behavior
  • Sulking
  • Trying To Get Your Attention
  • Paw Tapping

History of Dogs Feeling Betrayed


Both professionals and dog lovers know that trying to work out a dog’s emotions can sometimes be difficult. However, over recent years a lot of studies have been performed to learn more about canine behavior such as disappointment, distress, and other common, human emotions. We know from this research that when it comes to emotions such as fear and aggression, dogs do display clear signs. 

However, with secondary emotions such as betrayal and disappointment, things become more complicated. Obviously, dogs do not get emotional over the same sorts of things as humans. For example, your dog won’t feel betrayed by a partner that leaves you for someone else. However, it will feel emotion over the fact that you have not given it a walk at the usual time.

With dogs having no concept of what betrayal is, humans tend to use their own experience of feeling betrayed to determine whether their dog may be experiencing this type of emotion. The fact that there is now such a strong bond between dogs and humans means that we are more likely to treat their emotional actions in the same way as we would a friend or family member. For instance, if you have been paying more attention to a new partner and your dog is moping around with a long face, your first thought may be that it feels betrayed.

The Science Behind Dogs Feeling Betrayed


Dogs have been studied in-depth over the years so that we can learn more about their emotions. Researchers believe that while dogs do feel emotions such as disappointment, they cannot feel betrayed because they do not have any concept of what it means to be betrayed. 

However, the way in which they behave comes across as what we humans see as feeling betrayed. This is why many people believe that when their dog looks disappointed it actually feels betrayed, but this is not strictly the case. When a person feels betrayed they often find it very hard to forgive. However, once your dog gets what it wants – such as a walk, a treat, or some affection – it will quickly get back to normal in most cases.

Helping Your Dog to Feel Better


When your dog displays some of the signs outlined above, you need to work out what may be causing it to feel differently. Dogs can be very emotional and the way in which they behave when they feel this way can vary from one dog to another. However, when there is something amiss, they will behave differently than normal, which is what you need to look out for. If your dog is skulking around looking sulky, has lost interest in activities or in the family in general, and is acting subdued or aloof, there may be something that you have done to cause this without even realizing it.

By looking at the circumstances surrounding your pooch’s unusual behavior, you can more easily determine the cause of the issue. It may not even be something that you have done that has made your dog behave differently. For instance, in some cases, it may be a change in its environment, such as a new pet or a baby being brought into the family. Dogs can react very sensitively to major changes such as this but as long as you try and keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible, the emotions should pass in time.

The key thing is to make sure you are not treating your pet any differently than normal if there is a change in your own situation. So, if you have a new partner, a new baby, or another pet, don’t just push your pooch out because this will make it feel neglected. This is when you may see signs that you would class as feeling betrayed. Changes to environment, family life, or treatment can cause major emotional distress for dogs. This then comes across to us as our dogs showing us they feel betrayed in some way.  

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By a Boston Terrier lover Reno Charlton

Published: 04/20/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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