Do Your Dogs Experience Emotion?

Posted by Dawn Shive on

I recently stated here that Abbie was in her terrible two's. I read an article this morning which made me realize I might have been more right than I thought at the time. I found this article in Modern Dog Magazine. In this article, "Which Emotions Do Dogs Actually Experience?", by Stanley Coren, the author talks about our dogs developing the emotions we as humans develop. He states dogs stop developing the same emotions at about the same place we are when we are about 2 1/2 years old. In his article, Stanley Coren, says dogs develop emotionally more quickly than we do, depending on their breed.

The emotions dogs have and we have by the time we are around 2 1/2 are: Excitement/Arousal, Distress, Contentment, Disgust, Fear, Anger, Joy, Suspicion/Shyness, and Affection/Love, according to Mr. Coren. The emotions he says dogs never develop are: Shame, Pride, Guilt and Contempt. My best friend, Barb, has a Rottie, which she shows. We both thought her Rudy feels great pride when he wins another ribbon. Maybe it is joy he is feeling when he is stood on that box with the ribbon or trophy photographed with him. Maybe it is just our pride in him we are projecting. Stanley Coren also says our dogs do not feel guilt when they do something we don't like. It could just be they equate what they did wrong with fear of our reaction to the evidence they leave behind. A friend of mine told me just a little while ago she did not believe that. She swears her dog felt guilt when he would pee in the floor before he was fully house trained. She would never raise her hand to her dog, so maybe he was feeling distress because she would raise her voice at him when she was unhappy about something he did. 

I know I am happy to read Belle and Abbie feel Joy, Love and Contentment. Those are the emotions I want them to always feel.

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