Ever get the feeling your dog’s disappointed in you? Maybe you ignored him for a moment to scratch a pal’s pet, or chose a night on the town over an evening playing fetch. It turns out there’s a chance your dog does, indeed, feel jealous. In a recent article, the New York Times explored the possibility that dogs experience jealousy. If the science behind dog jealousy leaves you wondering about your canine’s emotional range, read on to explore your dog’s rich inner life.
Feelings, whoa whoa whoa: Understanding dog emotions
The joy of parenting a dog stems, in part, from their seeming transparency—happiness, remorse, enthusiasm… your dog wears his heart on his sleeve (or, okay, fur). But how closely do dogs’ perceived emotions correlate to human emotions? Researchers are exploring the psychology of our beloved pets for insight into their inner lives.
Laughter, long considered an exclusively human phenomenon, may in fact extend to the greater animal kingdom.
When our dogs pant/laugh, we can’t exactly ask them, “What’s so funny”—instead, scientists have explored the physiology and impact of laughter in dogs. Research suggests the sound of other dogs vocalizing in a laugh-like manner results in decreased stress levels and increased socialization among canine peers. So yeah, that time you tripped on the leash? Your dog was totally laughing at you.
Depression in dogs
Maybe you just came home from the hospital with a new baby, and the usually gregarious Lady hung her head. Maybe you’ve uprooted your family dog to a crowded new apartment. Whatever the scenario, big changes can trigger big emotions—and if you’re scoring high on the stress test, there’s a decent chance your pooch is, too.
The jury’s still out on whether dog depression is comparable to human depression—but dogs can appear listless and withdrawn. That empathy we know and love has its darker side; if you’re feeling down, your dog may respond in kind.
We all have bad days—but if you suspect your dog might be depressed, talk to your vet, and read more about the signs on WebMD.
That guilty look on your dog’s face? Recent research indicates your dog’s emotions don’t directly correspond to his ashamed expression. As explored in USA Today, it’s likely dogs look “guilty” when they’re being scolded—that the expression indicates a fear of punishment. It’s probably a reaction to your anger, and not necessarily an indication of remorse.
We all know the joys a loving dog brings to your life. When your dog’s ears perk up or his tail wags, he’s showing comfort, exuberance and, yes, doggie happiness. Asking for a belly rub, romping along at your side, and offering an affectionate lick are all great indicators that your dog is doing well.
As it turns out, we’ve only just begun to understand the depths of our dog’s emotional lives. But oh, what we wouldn’t do for the love of dogs.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.