6 min read


Can Dogs Feel Unloved?



6 min read


Can Dogs Feel Unloved?


Up until the 1980’s, dogs were still regarded as a wolf with cute, floppy ears and a barking sound instead of the classic wolfy-howl. The Labrador puppy with the soft mellow eyes you brought from the pet shop came with an invisible “Buyer Beware” sign. This was to warn you that underneath that fluffy bravado lurked a savage wolf that could turn at any time. 

Dog trainers from the first world war instilled a sense of fear into the hearts of all dog owners and it worked. If you grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, you might remember the family dog as a novel item, rather than a flesh and blood soul capable of feeling unloved. Science is showing us that dogs are not wolves and, yes, are creatures that thrive on affection.


Signs a Dog Feels Un-Loved

The pooch described by 17th-century French philosopher, Descartes, was likened to a sack of potatoes and, unlike humans, could not reason or feel pain. One man and his belief system influenced the world as animals, in general, were left out in the cold, well into the 21st century. Perhaps he should have spent more time with a dog, then he may have seen they are not on auto-pilot but a living entity with emotions. If you can feel, then it can be said the concept of love would only be a paw away.

 A visit to your local animal shelter will put to rest any doubts you had that dogs can feel unloved. Pups cowering in corners with tails tucked between their hind legs are signs of neglect or abandonment. Those that feel combative after experiencing abuse will snap and bare their teeth when you walk past. Their body language is defensive and a sign they've known little love Their human owners were clearly not cut out for sharing life with a wondrous dog, as their aggressive or down-trodden look tells the story of a loveless life.

The magnificent Mastiff doomed to a life on a chain in the backyard howls and whines in protest. They’ll bark to get attention, constantly lunging on their chain and pacing back and forth. This lonely, unloved pooch enjoyed digging in their pet-moms garden and had a Houdini reputation for escaping at will. Instead of putting up a higher fence and cordoning off the garden area, their irritated owners tied the dog to a kennel.

The pooch left in a crate for most of the day while their guardians work will create bad feelings with the neighbors as they chew on the rails of their prison

Sometimes people who want a dog choose the wrong breed and don’t realize how much attention and exercise they might need. If you want a dog in your life, make sure you have the time to make them feel loved. 

Body Language

Some clues that a dog is feeling unloved include:<br/>

  • Digging
  • Whining
  • Cowering
  • Whimpering
  • Averting Eyes
  • Tail Tucking

Other Signs

More signs a dog is not feeling the love are:<br/>

  • Acting Aggressive
  • Howling And Barking When Left Alone
  • Defensive Body Language
  • Chewing Shoes Or Furniture
  • Trying To Escape

History of Dogs Needing Human Love


Looking at your pretty Poodle or cheeky Chihuahua, it's not easy to imagine that their DNA is almost 100% wolf. It’s been a long while since they walked the plains in protective packs, bringing down massive animals to feed their tribe. One thing the wolf and its offspring have in common is their need for family companionship. The spirituality of the lone wolf has been dramatized by Hollywood but its fair to say wolves and dogs love company.

Since ancient times, pooches have been friends to humans and have helped herd their flocks. People have taken the place of wolves as Dobermans, Siberian Huskies, and English Toy Terriers have integrated into human life. Psychology Today suggests we may have bred woofers to love or feel closely attached to people even more than their own species.

A study carried out at Wright State University with input from scientists at Ohio University verifies this possibility. Eight mixed-breed mutts had lived together in pairs since they were eight weeks old, with one person as their guardian. The puppies had also been properly socialized with other people.

Researchers wanted to understand how attached they were, so they separated each pair for around four hours. Generally, when a pup is taken away from its siblings they will whine and exhibit their distress but the pup left behind in the kennel showed no change in behavior or stress hormone levels.

When both pups was taken away from their familiar kennel and placed in another, the story was quite the opposite .These woofers were not happy campers and showed high levels of stress and anxiety. They also didn’t appear to draw comfort from each other’s company. Things took a positive turn when their familiar guardian came to be with them

Looks like dogs love us more than each other and don't mind moving to new territory as long as the humans come too. These findings certainly suggest our long-term breeding of dogs has made us the most valued member of their clan.

Science of Dogs Feeling Unloved


It's official folks! Your beloved Border Collie feels mushy when you tell them they are the best dog on the planet. It seems canine science has filled the doggy bowl with some of the best news in centuries. Dog owners never doubted their pooch thought they were the greatest thing since yummy treats, but now the New York Times confirms our dog really love us!

Neuroscientist, Dr. Gregory Burns, set up a ton of tests using an MRI machine and found dogs are genuine in their loved-up feelings for humans. Burns dared to boldly go where no man with a dog has gone before. In doing so, he trekked through the doggy mind to find their rewards center lit up when he praised them.  

The pups participating in the experiment had been previously trained to go into the machine with no due-force involved. A self-confessed dog lover, Burns gave the pooches hotdogs and praise with words like “good girl.” It appears our caring canines have a soft spot for us humans and are not just in it for the food. 

Training a Dog to Feel Loved


With studies highlighting how dogs feel about their human owners, it's essential we use training methods that enhance the dog/guardian bond. Dogs are not wolves, having been domesticated for thousands of years by people who wanted a companion animal with a friendly character.

Early training methods saw dogs as a member of a pack like their wolf ancestors or a creature demanding an autocratic style of persuasion. Even though breeds like a Japanese Chin and Old English Sheepdogs look nothing like a wolf, many folks believed you couldn’t trust a dog as it used to be a predatory wolf.

This caused a wave of dog trainers to use standover tactics to get the wolf/mutt to do as they were told. Pooches became subservient beings who towed the line - or else. Dogs of all breeds were treated the way some kids were back in the day when discipline was the key to a child knowing their place in the world.

Along came Victoria Stilwell who put a spoke in the wheels of dog trainers using harsh methods. Times were changing as children were given timeouts and encouraged to spread their wings in a positive way. Science also caught up, with revelations of doggy emotion and how they could tell when we are sick or feeling sad.

It was time to decide which style of dog training was right for the modern age.The New York Times gauged a study of dogs trained with punitive and positive encouragement methods.

Dogs of various breeds were trained for several months and put forward to an advanced class so researchers could see the two very different ways of training in action. 

They first observed pooches trained using old-school tactics with stern voices and a dominant approach, who were highly-stressed. These victimized mutts yawned a lot, licked their mouths and presented a low body stance you might expect to see on a pooch that is fearful. 

On the other hand, woofers that had been trained using praise, treats, and positive encouragement were happier pooches who often gazed affectionately at their owners. Sixty-five percent of dogs trained with adverse methods showed stress compared to eight percent in the positive group.

Dogs need to learn boundaries the same way kids do, but without losing their spirit and internal happiness. Positive reinforcement, the mantra of trainers like Victoria Stilwell, is the way forward. If a dog can feel loved, they deserve human kindness when teaching them how they are supposed to behave!

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Written by a Japanese Chin lover Linda Cole

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 04/30/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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