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Can Dogs Understand Our Feelings?
As dog owners, we all like to think that we understand our dogs and that they also understand us. When it comes to our feelings and emotions, we often see our dogs responding in certain ways, which makes us feel that perhaps our pooch does understand the way we are feeling.
Well, in part, dogs do understand our feelings in that they can tell when we are angry, sad, happy, or excited. They have no concept of what these words mean, of course, which means that your pooch won’t be sitting there thinking ‘oh good, my human looks really happy today’. However, they are very intuitive animals so they can pick up on the vibe from our emotions.
Signs to Look Out For
You will often notice signs that your dog is paying attention to the way you are feeling. For instance, when you are really sad and down in the dumps, your dog may come and lie down next to you or even put his head in your lap. If you are happy and excited, you may see your dog jumping up and down and barking excitedly himself. All of these indicate that your dog is picking up on your feelings and the way in which you are reacting to these feelings.
As humans, when we feel certain emotions, we tend to show some physical signs in most cases. For instance, when we are happy, we laugh; when we are sad, we often cry; if we are angry, we shout. All of these signs are ones that dogs can pick up on and they learn to associate them with the emotion that they are connected to.
Watching the way in which your dog reacts will show that they are getting a certain vibe from you and their actions will often mirror yours. They may become subdued, excited, fearful, or aggressive based on both your emotions and your actions.
The body language of your pooch can vary based on the emotions that you are feeling, and this is what often indicates that they are feeling a vibe from your emotions and actions. Dogs will often whine and lie down if their owner is upset or sad. If their owner is happy and laughing, you may see him running around wagging his tail or barking with excitement.
If you are feeling angry, this will come across in your tone and voice volume, which could result in your dog putting his ears down and slinking off. Alternatively, your dog could display signs of aggression if you are feeling angry and act aggressively toward him.
One of the things that your dog is likely to react to when you are feeling certain emotions is your tone. You will see various signs that may be displayed by your pet based on the tone that you are using. If you are angry, your dog will sense this by your tone even if you are not speaking directly to him and shouting at someone else. Dogs learn very quickly to associate tones and actions, so although they won’t know what your emotion is they will be pretty clued up about the possible consequences.
History of Our Connection with Dogs
As humans, we have developed various methods of training over the decades in a bid to train our pooches effectively. A lot of this training is based on communication, and what the dog reacts to is the tone and what he associates that tone with.
For instance, you use a firm tone if you are telling your dog not to do something or a gentle one if you are trying to soothe him. Similarly, we use different tones when we are feeling certain emotions, and again, this is something that your dog picks up on. When you act and speak in a different way, dogs have come to associate this with actions and consequences.
Over years of domestication, dogs and humans have come to communicate effectively with one another in our own ways. While we cannot tell our dog how we are feeling or what our emotions are, dogs have come to recognize this in other ways.
Whether your emotions are directed at your pet pooch or at someone else, dogs are now able to pick up on them very effectively, which is why their reactions and body language often changes when yours does.
The Science Behind Dogs and Our Feelings
Basically, when it comes to the science of dogs recognizing human feelings and emotions, it all comes down to tone and actions. Your dog will pick up on certain tones that you are using, which is something that will come naturally to you based on the emotion that you are feeling.
The way you feel will also affect the way you act – for example, if you are angry you may slam doors or throw something. Again, this is something that your dog will pick up on and will know that it is not a good sign because of the way they link actions, tones, and consequences.
Training Your Dog to be Sensitive to Feelings
If you want your dog to start better understanding your feelings and emotions, this is possible. However, you need to remember that sitting there and telling your dog you feel sad or happy isn’t going to cut it because he will have no idea what you are talking about.
What will make a difference is the tone that you use when you are speaking to him and feeling a certain way. This is something that your dog will respond to and will learn to associate it with your emotion automatically. So, depending on how you are feeling, you can use or try out different tones with your pooch to help him to understand your feelings and emotions more easily.
It is even worth taking some time out to train your dog to understand feelings by using different tones. Of course, you may have to pretend to feel certain emotions so that you can get the tone right. For instance, you could even pretend to cry and use the tone that you would normally use if you were sad or upset. Your dog may not get it the first time around but over time you can train him to associate your actions and tone so that he marries them up.
You should also remember the importance of body language and actions in addition to tone, as this will make it easier for your dog to pick up on how you feel. Dogs tend to watch body language very carefully and are extremely observant. Therefore, using the right body language based on the emotion that you are feeling (or pretending to feel) along with the right tone can help in terms of training your four-legged friend. Also, bear in mind that dogs tend to be very good at reading facial expression, so use this to your advantage during training.
By a Boston Terrier lover Reno Charlton
Published: 02/16/2018, edited: 04/06/2020
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