It is commonly said that dogs have six senses. They are intuitive animals with unique abilities to respond to humans in specific ways according to each situation. When we are happy, they get excited. When we are sad, they comfort us.
In threatening situations, dogs seem to know how to behave. Much of the time they get fearful or defensive. How do they know how to act in each situation?
Sometimes, it seems like our dogs feel genuine love. But do they? What can dogs feel? By observation, it seems like dogs can have different moods and emotional reactions to specific things. If dogs feel emotions, can they feel disgust?
Signs of a Dog Feeling Disgust
Dogs are capable of feeling emotions. They do not feel emotions in the same way that humans do because they do not think in the same way that we do. They are able to develop to the emotional and intellectual level of a two-year-old. This means that they can feel the basic emotions that humans feel such as joy and disgust.
Dogs sometimes feel disgust if they are pet when they do not want to be pet. At other times, they feel disgust when they see threatening dogs.
You'll be able to tell when your dog is disgusted by watching their body language and responses to their surroundings. If your dog sees another dog and feels territorial or threatened, you'll notice that they start making eye contact and even showing their teeth. This is a sign that your dog needs some distracting and to direct them away from the situation.
Some dogs need care and attention when they are meeting new people. Sometimes, it's best to let your dog smell and get to know a new person before they are approached. Some dogs need their personal space. If your dog is being pet and does not like it, you will notice that they show their teeth, start growling, or bark. A furrowed brow and an intense stare signify that your dog needs some space.
Pay attention to your dog's body language and attitude - they can tell you a lot about what your dog needs!
The History of Dog Emotions
It truly is amazing how dogs are able to respond to our emotions and display their own emotions. Dogs certainly have unique personalities that are special to them. The ability to read and respond to emotions comes from thousands of years of evolution.
It all started over 15,000 years ago, beginning with wolves. Humans and wolves lived separately until they realized they could help each other. The two species protected each other. Wolves helped humans hunt while the humans gave them food.
Over time, the bond strengthened. Some wolves stayed away from humans while others grew closer. The wolves that stayed closer to humans evolved differently. They began developing unique personality traits. The more a wolf could connect to humans, the more likely the humans were to breed them. This led to the continuation of the traits that our dogs have today.
Humans and dogs get to know each other over time. The more time we spend with dogs, the better we can each read them and predict their behavior. Dogs evolved from their wolf ancestors and grew into the countless breeds we have today. Despite the plentiful number of breeds, each dog has its own individual personality.
The Science of Dog Emotions
Dogs are capable of feeling emotions, and they feel the basic emotions that humans can feel. Dogs and humans both have the same brain structure - leading to similar emotions. They have the same hormone and chemical changes in their brains as we do. That being said, dogs do not analyze emotions in the same ways that humans do.
Dogs and humans both produce oxytocin when they are cuddling and spending time together. So, when your dog is gazing in your eyes while sitting next to you, you know that they are feeling love.
Just like humans, dogs produce more adrenaline when they are stressed. When dogs are feeling disgust, their adrenaline production gets them more riled up. This is when you will notice a negative reaction from your dog.
Training a Dog to Respond to their Emotions
If your dog is territorial, you may notice that they get angry when a new person comes over or when another dog invades their space. This can cause some disruption when you want to have a playdate with your dog or take them to a new place.
A dog who gets disgusted or angry easily can be trained to respond differently to the situations that trigger their negativity. The best thing to do is to start slow. Accommodate your dog's needs and work your way up to them being more and more comfortable.
When you introduce your dog to a new person, take them to a neutral spot to meet. Let the person know that your dog should smell them and get comfortable before they try to pet them. This will make everyone involved feel safe.
A territorial or aggressive dog is not a bad dog, they just need a bit more assurance to know that they are safe. You can provide this assurance by working with your dog and exposing them to new things gradually. When you take your dog to new places, be sure to bring treats. Start with something small, like a walk around the block.
While you are on your walk, talk to your dog in a soothing tone of voice. Dogs can pick up on what your tone of voice means and it will tell them how to respond to you. You can comfort your dog by responding in a positive tone and reminding them how to behave when you come across an obstacle.
Give treats and positive praise when your dog responds well to this new situation. A great way to reward a dog for good behavior is by doing an activity that your dog loves such as a game of fetch or tug-o-war.
By a Corgi lover Simone DeAngelis
Published: 03/28/2018, edited: 04/06/2020