4 min read


Can Dogs Feel Confusion?



4 min read


Can Dogs Feel Confusion?


Dogs are able to feel a variety of different kinds of emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, joy, fear, and more. But there are other emotions dogs can feel as well that may not be as obvious as the emotions above. One emotion, or feeling, your dog is able to feel is confusion. 

Confusion can come about from a variety of situations, but the most common reason dogs get confused is when they are learning a new trick or in a training session and they get a little lost. Let us take a look at reasons why your dog can get confused and how they show signs of confusion.


Signs of a Dog Getting Confused

As we said above, dogs can get confused and the most common situation for confusion comes from new training lessons. Just like humans, dogs can get flustered, overwhelmed, and confused when they are learning something they have never done before. It can lead to certain actions and this is how your dog is letting you know they are confused and frustrated. 

One sign that your dog may be getting confused is when you are in the middle of training and they start barking, particularly if they seem to be struggling to pick up their hand signal or voice command. Some dogs may also completely shut down and want to stop whatever they are doing. Your dog may sit, lay, or walk away from you during a session if they are getting too confused and feel like they don't understand what is going on. 

Other dogs will show signs of confusion by getting a little bit aggressive and trying to paw you, snap or bite in your direction. On the other hand, other dogs will actually seek more affection and get "lovey dovey" with you because they are seeking more comfort in this confusing and challenging time. Actions will vary depending on your dog, so just keep an eye out for any sign your dog is getting confused.

Body Language

These are some signs your dog is getting confused:

  • Barking
  • Head Tilting
  • Snapping
  • Biting

Other Signs

Here are some other signs of your dog getting confused:

  • Walking Away And Shutting Down
  • Seeking More Love And Attention
  • Getting Aggressive

History of Dogs and Confusion


Confusion is an emotion or a feeling that your dog has been experiencing since they were small puppies. When they first come into the world, everything is completely new and there are so many different things they need to learn. 

From learning how to walk to learning to walk up and down the stairs, there are plenty of opportunities for your puppy and fully grown dog to get confused. As a small puppy, your dog was like confused by the stairs and first and it took them a little bit of time to understand how they were supposed to maneuver these ledges. This is very common and most pet owners have experienced this behavior before. 

Dogs can also get confused when you are training them to go potty outside. This can often take the longest for your dog to get used to and it will take a lot of practice for them. In the beginning, many owners report that their puppy cannot understand that going potty inside the house is wrong and they cannot understand why their owner is picking them up quickly and rushing them outside as they were trying to go to the bathroom.

Science Behind Dogs Getting Confused


Many scientists and scholars claim that confusion is not an emotion. Rather, they claim the confusion is a fusion between fear and anger, making it a hybrid emotion of sorts. Furthermore, many canine experts claim that dogs cannot feel complex emotions such as confusion, however, others believe this is the farthest thing from the truth.

As more studies are emerging, it is becoming more clear that dogs can definitely become confused in certain situations and they can shut down and show other emotions as a result of this type of confusion, especially during the training process.

Training Dogs to Not Get Confused


Although you will not be able to eliminate confusion with your dog all the time (because it is just part of life) there are times where you can help them get through their confusion. If your dog is getting confused when you are in a training session with them, you can follow the steps below to help reduce and get through that confusion. 

The first thing you should do is make sure you are training them in shorter and more frequent training sessions. One of the reasons your dog gets confused is because they are overwhelmed and they are getting frustrated. Shorter sessions will make sure there is less of a chance your dog will get confused by all of the different commands you are throwing at them. 

Secondly, if you make sure you are making their training experience happy and fun, there is less of a chance they are going to get confused and frustrated. Make sure you are staying calm, you are using an even but firm tone, and are giving them a lot of praise when they are doing well. This will keep your dog happy and engaged and they will be less likely to feel like you are overwhelming them. 

Furthermore, make sure you have plenty of their favorite treats on hand as well. High reward treats are a great way to keep your dog motivated and engaged. Lastly, if your dog is showing signs of confusing and frustration and you have been doing everything right, they may just be tired and need a break. If this is the case, stopping, letting them recharge, and then jumping back into training later in the day or the following day will be your best bet. You and your dog will be the most successful that way. 

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Safety Tips for Confused Dogs:

  1. Give them time to get their focus back.
  2. Don't allow their confusion to progress to aggression.

By a Samoyed lover Kayla Costanzo

Published: 03/28/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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