3 min read


Can Dogs Feel Euphoria?



3 min read


Can Dogs Feel Euphoria?


We, humans, are capable of feeling sensations of euphoria. For instance, consider the feeling runners get when they accomplish a ridiculously long distance. A "runner's high" has been described as a state of euphoria or even serenity after one's endurance has kicked in. Scientists believe that this state is due to exercise-induced endorphins. (Remember Elle Woods: Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy!). 

These endorphins are simply chemicals in the brain that are released and can trigger mood swings and pain tolerance. 

However, one may wonder - if humans can feel euphoria, what about their best friend? Read on to find out!


Signs Your Dog Can Feel Euphoria

Truth be told, our pups can feel similar mood boosters and feelings of euphoria following exercise, even moderate-intensity exercise. It's pretty obvious when our pup's are feelin' the love. While each dog is different, there's a good chance you will know when your pooch is cheerful and euphoric. For instance, you might spot a wagging tail from a mile away or a sagging, drooling tongue. Perhaps your doggo will be running around with the zoomies or jump around excitedly.

While each dog has their own personality and character quirks, you are ultimately your dog's BFF and can watch your pup in order to determine what your pup is feeling and when. Some researchers even believe that a dog's ability to emotionally connect and bond with humans is a sign of cognitive ability rather than learned behavior. 

Our doggos are naturally in tune with their surroundings and rely on their senses of smell, sight, and hearing to understand us. So if you see your pup feeling euphoric or joyful, be sure to encourage their feelings of happiness so your dog feels great and so that you can bond together and feel great too.

Body Language

Here are a few signs that may indicate your pup is feeling euphoria:

  • Alert
  • Head Tilting
  • Listening
  • Jumping Up
  • Wag Tail
  • Raise Ears
  • Tongue Hanging

Other Signs

Here are a couple of other signs that your dog is feeling happy:

  • Running Around
  • Following You
  • Panting Happily
  • Other Signs Of Joyfulness

The History Behind Dogs Feeling Euphoria


Researchers believe that nature has rewarded many animals, including our perfect pups, with the ability to feel euphoria in order to encourage them to run, jump, and hunt for food. Remember that our furry friends originally roamed the earth as wild wolves before they were domesticated and walked with humans instead.

When early man walked this Earth, humans had to travel away from home to hunt or find food. Sore or tired muscles could potentially leave early humans to starve, so there needed to be a way to keep going regardless of how fatigued they felt. Since early domesticated dogs traveled with humans, they also needed the ability to fight through fatigue to hunt and keep going. 

Simply, euphoria is nature's way of rewarding the body for working hard and encouraging the body to keep going. The "runner’s high" probably helped hunters, both human and dog, find their food and further bring it home. And since our pups ultimately helped humans in the hunt, they also needed to be able to keep up.

The Science Behind Dogs Feeling Euphoria


While not everyone has experienced a runner's high, it has been explained as a euphoric feeling one gets after a difficult workout. The exercise-related stress is numbed and your endurance kicks in. According to a recent study, dogs get that same feeling after a good run or workout too. 

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology and determined that the brains of both us and our canine companions release mood-altering chemicals after running or strenuous exercise.

The researchers compared humans, dogs and ferrets to analyze our chemical reactions to exercise and see if we had similar endorphin rushes. The researchers found that while ferrets don’t get a high from exercise, dogs and humans do. Even further, dogs experience a "runner's high" that is even more intense than what we feel. 

The euphoric kick can be explained by the activation of neurochemicals and endocannabinoid receptors in the brain, which occurs when our body has been exercising.

Training Your Dog to Feel Euphoria


Feeling certain emotions is an innate ability, so teaching your pup to feel a certain emotion, specifically happiness or euphoria, isn't exactly possible. However, the ability to feel euphoria is linked to moderate to high-intensity exercise and doesn't need to be taught in our pooches. If you want your doggo to experience an intense happiness, make sure you give your dog plenty of exercise. 

So, just how much exercise is necessary to trigger this feeling? Just like for us, a simple walk around the block won't do the trick. You've got to get your dog moving, particularly at a moderate pace before the endorphins really kick in. Not only will it trigger this happiness, but it will keep your you and your pup healthy too.

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By Olivia Gerth

Published: 06/08/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

Wag! Specialist
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