4 min read


Can Dogs Tell How You Feel?



4 min read


Can Dogs Tell How You Feel?


Living with a dog could be likened to sharing your home with a canine counselor who analyzes your every move and word. You can’t get much past the family pooch as they don’t have the crazy lives us humans do.

They watch us racing off to work, stressing over the new boss or boyfriend and crying every time we watch the “Beaches” movie. They are probably quietly screaming “slow down, smell the flowers in your garden" or "let’s go play with the Frisbee at the park." 

Not only do dogs often know what's good for us, but they also seem to have a knack for knowing how we feel as well. Let's find out just why that is!


Signs a Dog Can Read Your Emotions

For so long, the family pooch was a nice companion that didn’t talk much, apart from the occasional woof, and seemed happy enough going for walks and hanging out on the sofa at game-time.

An avalanche of scientific studies changed our view as we had to appreciate they had feelings and could understand ours. Before dogs were outed, you thought they were staring at you because they wanted to be let outside. With the news that they can tell if you're happy, sad, or sick, woofers are in vogue as researchers want to know what other secrets they are hiding.

If you feel like you are being watched, you probably are as Baxter, your Brussels Griffin raises his paw if you seem down. You always thought this was cute and perhaps a knee-jerk reaction, but now dogs are known to be emotive - it’s the real deal!

Baxter whines a lot when his pet-mom looks sad and wags his tail when she’s in a cheerful mood. He’s a bright little spark that tilts his head to listen when she tells him how she feels.

Dogs are people watchers - like someone sipping coffee at a cafe. They are also mimics that see our body language and mirror it with their own. Watch them spin around and get excited when we dance to a song we love or the hair rise on the back of their neck as they growl at a stranger's vibe.  Dogs are instinctive and know a predator at first glance.

They can read a person's body language and the expression on a strangers face. Plus - they can smell chemical changes that tell them a human's emotive state.

Body Language

Signs a dog can tell how you feel are:<br/>

  • Growling
  • Staring
  • Head Tilting
  • Listening
  • Back Hair On Edge
  • Paw Raised
  • Spinning

Other Signs

Signs a dog can understand our emotions include:<br/>

  • Reading Facial Expressions
  • Body Language Changes
  • Mimicking Your Mood

The History of Dogs Understanding How We Feel


Wolves use their facial expressions to let pack members know how they feel. Our dynamic dogs inherited this ability and use it to understand our various vibes. That’s according to scientist Marc Bekoff, who wrote The Emotional Lives of Animals. He tells us wolves wag their tails to make a point and, like humans, grieve when they lose a family member.

Many folks think the closeness created by years of domestication caused dogs to align with humans emotions, but it is actually a hand me down from their wolf fore-fathers. The fact that they can understand what we say opens up a world of doggy communication and that’s down to the part of their brain that analyzes speech.

The UK Independent told us about a study in a Hungary University involving dogs being trained to lie inside an MRI machine. The woofers were talked to by the researchers while they monitored what was going on in the canine brain. They learned dogs can process speech and language, the way we do. The right side of the brain embraces the emotional content, while the left picks up on the meaning.

Philosophers like Renee Descartes, who inspired dog damnation during the 17th century, clearly had it wrong. Perhaps if he’d hung out with a few wolves he might have seen how emotive they are.

The Science of Dogs Telling How We Feel


When researchers discovered just how adept our dogs were at telling how we feel, it was a milestone for our canine companions. 

New Zealand recognized dogs as sentient beings capable of feeling pain in 2015, as did France and Quebec. According to New Republic, around two thirds of Americans have a pet but for the best part of the twentieth century, the family pooch was considered a chattel with limited rights.

That’s why The Huffington Post called upon America to honor dogs as sentient beings. In 2017, the state of Illinois passed a new law preventing dogs from being caught up in custody battles. This was a landmark decision also implemented by Alaska.

In “The Land of The Free”, dogs need to be taken seriously and pronounced emotive beings that feel pain. How loud do scientists have to yell before the voice of the dog is heard? They are not our property but intelligent friends who help the blind, deaf, and mentally impaired. They also support the police and military plus use their assets to sniff out crime. Its time for world-wide change.

Training Your Dog with Positive Methods


Now that we know dogs are emotive, it's imperative our training programs are styled in a positive way. Reading some of the ways near-famous trainers get a dog to sit, stay, and come sends shivers down the spine of an enlightened soul who believes only kindness matters.

The mere thought of flooding a dog with the thing that terrorizes their mind is akin to having spiders thrown over a phobic personality. Psyching a pooch with intimidation tactics, finger jabbing and choke collars brings images to mind of a prisoner at war being tormented into giving information. Psychology Today offered an insight into punitive training methods where dog owners must be the leader of a pack.

Victoria Stilwell rocked the nation with her positive training ideas. A pooch should be trained with patience, rewards, and respect.  This way, they walk with confidence and are equipped to make good choices.

The dog training ballpark is a minefield of arguments as to what style of training works best. If we want our dogs to remain emotional beings, a focus on positive training methods should be used. They might be animals, but they have aligned with us in a close and caring way. Science has proved they actually love us, so if you want to build on that theme, train your pooch with respectful techniques.

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By a Japanese Chin lover Linda Cole

Published: 05/14/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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