Can Dogs Feel Betrayed?

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Introduction

Many people know what it is like to feel betrayed. This is an emotion that can cause stress, upset, and emotional pain. Some people go as far as to think that their dogs can also feel betrayed, but this is generally based on sentiment rather than proof. 

Most of us are guilty of thinking that because we feel a particular emotion our pets can also feel the same emotion. However, while your dog may show signs that make you instantly think that it feels betrayed, you have to remember that dogs have no idea what betrayal actually is. We know that dogs can feel pain and fear, but can they feel forsaken?

Introduction of Can Dogs Feel Betrayed?

Signs that Look Like Feeling Betrayed

There are various signs that your dog may display that indicate they feel betrayed. However, this is more to do with the way they associate themselves with you as the owner and how they expect to be treated. 

For example, if you get a new pet and start paying it more attention than your dog, the dog will not feel betrayed in the true sense of the word. However, it may show signs of distress and disappointment because it is suddenly being treated differently or being deprived of something it is used to getting.

Some signs that may come across as betrayal in your pooch include being more aloof, lying with its head on its paws, tail tucking, and moping. In some cases, such as the example above, your dog may try harder to get your attention by pawing at you, staring at you, or following you around. 

Many of the signs that your dog displays are what we would class as signs of betrayal. There is no doubt that your pooch will feel something akin to betrayal in certain situations but it is not the same as our version of betrayal because a dog does not feel emotional pain for the same sorts of reasons as humans. 

Body Language

Some signs to watch for if your dog is upset about something include:

  • Whining
  • Cowering
  • Whimpering
  • Averting eyes
  • Paw raised

Other Signs

More things to watch for if you have a distressed doggy are:

  • Moping and sulking
  • Hiding or slinking off
  • Being aloof
  • Loss of interest

The History of Dog Emotions

History of Can Dogs Feel Betrayed?

Over the years, a great deal of research into canine emotions and behavior has been carried out. As a result of this research, we now know that dogs feel emotions such as fear and aggression. It is also clear that they do experience emotions that we would class as disappointment, betrayal, and other common emotions. 

However, the difference with dogs is that they do not feel these emotions for the same reasons. For example, humans often feel betrayed if their partner cheats on them. Dogs, on the other hand, may show signs that come across as feeling betrayed if you don’t take them for a walk when they want one or you don’t give them scraps from the table. 

With dogs, it is more of a case of a feeling of disappointment than out right betrayal. However, as humans we have developed a very strong bond with dogs over the centuries and we often tie our own emotions in with theirs. We know what emotions such as betrayal feel like and we sometimes assume that our pets also know what betrayal is. This is natural because we now treat our dogs like members of the family rather than pets or belongings. 

Science of Dog Emotions

Science of Can Dogs Feel Betrayed?

Studies and observation have shown that the difference between a trusting and distrustful dog is clear in the way they behave. A dog that does not trust people may well have been betrayed in the past – for instance, it may have been the victim of abuse. 

However, while we see this as betrayal, a dog displays emotions such as fear or aggression. Dogs that have been betrayed by humans may shake and shiver, sit in corners and turn away, or may snarl and growl. This is all down to the fact that at some point they have gone through an experience that has robbed them of the trust they had in someone.

Helping Your Dog Deal with Fear and Aggression

Training of Can Dogs Feel Betrayed?

If you believe that your dog is behaving differently in terms of emotions, the first thing you need to look at is whether there have been any major changes in its environment. This could include radical changes such as a new baby, a new pet, or even moving houses. These are all factors that could result in your dog displaying behavioral traits that we would class as feeling betrayed. 

If there have been changes to the environment, you need to take action to ensure that your dog’s routine is not completely disrupted as a result of these changes. For example, if there is a new baby or pet in the household, don’t just start ignoring your pooch in favor of the new addition.

Sometimes, your dog may come across as feeling betrayed because of a change in your own lifestyle. For instance, if you have a new partner, you may end up spending a lot of time with them and not paying as much attention to your four-legged friend. Even a change in career can make a difference. If you get a new job that involved being out far more than you were before, this could cause emotional distress to your pet – after all, your pet has no idea that you have a new job and are trying to improve your future prospects.

The key to picking up on this type of emotion in your pooch is to be intuitive and try and work out why your pet may be feeling that way. Obviously, your dog cannot tell you how it is feeling other than through body language and signs, so this is something that you have to look out for. Once you have an idea of what is causing the problem, you will be in a position to make the necessary changes.   

How to React to Your Dog's Distress:

  • Take steps to rectify the situation.
  • Look for any major changes that have taken place.
  • Assess the situation.