Can Dogs Sense Feelings?

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Introduction

Humans are very emotional for the most part, and many of us are very poor at hiding our emotions and feelings. Often, other people can pick up on how we are feeling simply because of the way in which we act, our demeanor, and our tone of voice, amongst other things. 

However, it is not just other people that are able to pick up on our feelings through our stance and behavior – this is also something that our pet dogs are able to do with ease. In fact, it is even easier for dogs to sense feelings because they pick up on additional factors such as increased sweating when we feel certain emotions such as fear. 

Signs Your Dogs Senses Your Feelings

Dogs are extremely adept at sensing feelings and emotions. They do this in a variety of ways, such as the way in which you act, the tone of your voice, and through other means that would not always be obvious to humans. When a dog senses feelings, it may start acting in a certain way based on the feelings that it senses, as well as based on the personality of the dog. Dogs may display body language signs in line with the feelings that they sense as well as vocal signs and behavior changes.

For instance, if a dog senses that you are feeling sad, it may pay you far more attention, paw tap you, snuggle up, or lick your hands and face. If it senses you are feeling excited, your dog may wag its tail, jump around, bark excitedly, and run in circles. When it senses you are feeling scared, your dog may act defensively and protectively of you. If your dog senses you feel angry, it may steer clear of you, have its tail tucked and ears down, act in a subdued manner, or in some cases, act aggressively if it thinks that the anger is aimed in its direction.

You may also notice various body language signs that indicate your dog has sensed the way you are feeling. Again, these can vary based on the type of feeling your dog picks up on, as well as on your dog’s personality. When it relates to negative feelings, dogs will often tuck their tails, have their ears down, try to get your attention in order to comfort you, and behave in a very subdued manner. When it is a positive feeling that the dog senses, it will often act just as excitedly by running around, looking alert, wagging its tail, and jumping up.

Body Language

Signs that your dog is sensing a feeling include:
  • Alert
  • Jumping up
  • Wag tail
  • Dropped Ears
  • Tail tucking

Other Signs

More clues that indicate your dog can sense feelings are:

  • Growling
  • Snarling
  • Barking
  • Whining

History of Dogs Sensing Our Feelings

Dogs have been studied extensively over the decades and this has enabled us to learn more about how dogs are able to sense our emotions and feelings. In short, the way in which we act and the way our tone changes is based on the way we feel. When we are happy or excited, we laugh, smile, and act in an animated manner. When we are sad, our tone is low, we look depressed, and our body language changes to reflect how we feel. These are all things that dogs are able to pick up on and this enables them to sense our feelings.

We know from past studies that dogs also have an excellent sense of smell, which is why they have become so invaluable to many industries as working dogs. This sense of smell further helps them to pick up on the way we are feeling. 

For example, when we are frightened, we tend to sweat more excessively and this is something that dogs are able to pick up on through their sense of smell. So, when dogs pick up on our feelings, this is through a combination of their sense of smell and the way in which they are able to interpret our tone, body language, and behavior. 

The Science of Dogs Sensing Our Feelings

It is important to remember that dogs do not know what specific feelings are. For example, a dog does not know what being depressed, sad, or jealous means. However, it does know when your tone, body language, and actions are negative or positive, and this is what enables them to sense the way we feel. 

They are not sensing specific feelings but instead the positivity or the negativity of the feeling. Once dogs sense the way you are feeling, the way in which they act will often reflect that same feeling. They will then start acting and even vocalizing in a certain way based on your feelings, body language, and tone. 

Displaying Your Feelings in Front of Your Pooch

As you can see, dogs are extremely adept at sensing our emotions and feelings and they are also very sensitive to our emotions. This is why it is important to be aware of the way in which you act, speak, and behave when feeling certain emotions, as well as being aware of how your dog responds to these emotions. 

While dogs will often react to certain feelings in a very gentle way, there are times when your feelings and actions can cause your dog to become distressed or even aggressive. This is why you need to be aware of the impact your display of feelings has on your dog.

Of course, we cannot help the way we feel and there are times when you will experience negative feelings as well as positive ones. When you are feeling positive emotions such as excitement, happiness, and relief, this is something that your dog will pick up on and will also react positively to. This is because your pooch will pick up on your body language, tone, and actions, which will all change to reflect your feelings. In turn, your dog’s actions and body language will also change accordingly.

On the other hand, when you experience negative emotions, which we all do from time to time, your tone, behavior, and body language will also reflect this. Again, your dog will be able to pick up on this and the way in which it behaves may then change to reflect the feelings it picks up on.

This could result in your dog becoming distressed, depressed, aggressive, or frightened, which is obviously something you want to avoid. Being mindful of the way in which you display negative feelings when you are around your dog can help to minimize the impact your feelings have on your beloved pooch. 

How to React to Your Dog Sensing Feelings:

  • Be mindful of your actions when feeling negative emotions.
  • Determine whether this has a negative effect on your dog.
  • Be aware of the way you act when experiencing certain feelings.