As you are scolding your pup and showing them how they ruined your beloved boots, you probably think they are ashamed of what they've done. Unfortunately, this may not be the case. While an estimated 74 percent of dog owners think their dogs can feel guilt and shame, this may not be true.
Researchers have spent endless hours trying to determine what emotions dogs can feel, and we still don't have a straightforward answer for you. We know they can feel basic emotions like love, excitement, suspicion, disgust, distress, contentment, and anger, but the more complicated feelings are up in the air.
Disapproval, for one, is an emotion most agree dogs can experience. This means they can not only sense your disapproval, but they can also let you know when they are unhappy with something.
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Signs Your Dog Can Feel Disapproval
Dogs are able to experience a wide range of emotions, very similar to humans. While they may not have the capability to feel some of the deeper emotions we can, the fact of the matter is that they are more like us than we thought.
Dogs respond to these emotions in different ways - from barking and howling to jumping up and down and wagging their tail. Because of this, it is important that you observe your dog and get to know their individual behaviors. They have the same hormone - oxytocin - that humans do that is involved with feeling.
In order to truly understand how dogs feel and what disapproval is like to them, we must look at dogs like we do young children. It is thought that dogs have the same emotional capacity of a two to two-and-a-half year old human, which can help explain their actions and reactions!
- Furrowed brow
- Averting eyes
- Ears back
- Tucking their tail and leaving the room
- Refusing to come near you
History of Dogs Feeling Disapproval
When we look back at dogs' wild ancestors, we do see a link in associative behavior and their emotions. This is important for our relationship with them today, as it says a lot about how they process certain situations, memories, and actions of ours.
While Descartes and other philosophers may not have given dogs enough credit in the emotional department, dog owners of today perhaps go too far in the opposite direction. It is easy to think our dogs can understand more than they really do, and we certainly aren't here to say you don't know your dog!
By taking the time to learn their behavioral traits and take note of how they respond to things they like and dislike, you will be setting both of you up for a very happy future together.
Science Behind Dogs Feeling Disapproval
However, more recent studies have suggested that dogs can indeed recognize emotions in humans and other dogs. They do this through a combination of sensory data and experience to form a mental picture about specific emotions and emotional states.
Disapproval, for one, is an emotion that dogs understand pretty well. Not only can they tell when their humans are upset and discontent, but they can feel this way themselves. Think about when you try and give your dog a healthy snack or medication: some dogs verbalize their dislike and others find unique ways to avoid what's going on altogether! Most dogs are pretty transparent, so when they disapprove of something, their behavior will probably reflect that.
Avoidance is another common way dogs display disapproval. The more time you spend with your dog, the more you will learn about their preferences and what they do to show you how much they don't like something.
Training Your Dog to Feel Emotions
If you want to train your dog to respond a certain way to a specific emotion, your best bet is to use facial expressions, commands, and body language. Over time, your dog will learn that these specific actions together mean something, such as happiness, joy, or disappointment.
How to React If Your Dog Feels Disapproval:
Try to understand what they don't like or disapprove of.
Remember that they learn by association and these things take time.