Contrary to what used to be popular belief, dogs do feel emotions, many of which we humans feel as well. Research shows that a dog's cognitive capacity is similar to that of a human toddler, leading us to understand that dogs are capable of feeling happy, sad, joyful, and upset, among other emotions.
Because we feel such immense love for our sweet doggos, it is important for us to continuously observe our pups to make sure they are feeling A-OK. While tail wagging, licking, and cuddles tell us our pups are feeling dandy, whining or howling imply that something might be off. Do these signs mean our dogs are experiencing an emotion? Maybe even despair? Read on to find out!
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Signs Your Dog Can Feel Despair
It's pretty easy to tell when our pups are happy. Your dog will be playing, wagging their tail, panting, or jumping. When our dogs are feeling joyful and comfortable, their body language will show just that. Relaxed ears, a slack tongue, and otherwise relaxed body posture indicate being content with life.
Just the same, negative emotions will be obvious by your pup's body language as well. You'll know your dog is feeling sadness or despair if your pup has lowered ears, a rigid posture, or gleaming, puppy-dog eyes.
Similarly, dogs who have experienced a loss (whether it be a loss of a human or a furry friend) can withdraw. Sad or heartbroken symptoms can include lethargy, a lack of appetite, or a lack of interest in daily routine. While it might take us aback to see our pups in a sad mood, it is natural and common.
However, it is important that your dog is maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even if they are feeling down in the dumps. Eventually, a bit of time will get your pup back on their feet - a little lovin' can really make things better. However, if negative behavior persists, be sure to reach out to your veterinarian.
- Wag tail
- Going to the bathroom irregularly
- Loss of appetite
- Going to the bathroom in the house
- Negative behaviors
- Change in personality
The History Behind Dogs Feeling Despair
While wolves have never been exactly friendly to us humans, dogs have been genetically altered through the process of domestication. This process has enabled dogs to bond closer with their human counterparts, ultimately building relationships and more complex feelings.
There are some things that have never been denied and that includes the ability of both dogs and wolves to feel heartbreak, grief, or despair when they lose a member of the pack. Wolves have been known to howl with their heads hung low, while dogs have been known to whimper and lose interest in being active.
The Science Behind Dogs Feeling Despair
Studies have shown that dogs do indeed feel despair or even depression with the loss of a family member or furry friend. Whether these feelings are a result of a lack of companionship or a change in routine is not for certain, but science supports the idea that most dogs exhibit behavioral changes when one of their loved ones passes away.
While we may not fully understand how our canine companions are feeling, we can still be the best owners we can possibly be by offering love and support. Scientists, animal behavioralists, and owners alike agree that love and patience can heal all wounds.
Helping a Dog in Despair
If your pup is feeling low after a recent loss of a family member, you may need to spend time reassuring your pup that everything will be ok. Dogs (similarly to humans) are creatures of habit. They enjoy schedules and thrive off of everyday routine. While you may also be at a loss or feeling despair, working through sadness together can be healthy for everyone involved. It is important for your pup to stay healthy - so do your best to get outside of the home - whether it be playing at the park or a daily walk.
If you are concerned about your dog’s health, be sure to contact your veterinarian. A veterinarian can advise you on appropriate treatment or medication, if needed.
Here are some easy activities you can do with your pup to help lift the mood:
- Play with a favorite toy
- Go for a brisk walk
- Set up a doggy playdate with another canine friend
- Go for a ride in the car
- Offer a special treat
How to React if Your Dog is Feeling Despair:
Take your pup for walks.
Utilize lots of praise and treats.
When in doubt, call your veterinarian.
Spend time with your pup playing games and cuddling.
Try playing music when you're away.