Obviously, those of us that own a furry little friend would state that they definitely have emotions, and they would be correct! Most people can tell when their dog is feeling scared because the dog’s tail will raise and they will freeze in place, especially at the sight of another dog. Owners can sometimes tell that their pet is happy as well when they get home after a long day and their dog is jumping around barking. Dogs actually have a plethora of emotions, but they are different than human emotions.
Science and Religion
According to science, dogs have different mechanical and chemical processes, just like people or any other living thing. Scientists decided a long time ago that based on those processes, dogs are able to understand human language, and have their own emotions just like humans do. On the other hand, religion decided that there has to be more to people than just the scientific processes that keep us going.
Religious people insisted that people have souls, and as proof they stated that humans have consciousness and feelings. They argued that dogs and other animals don’t have souls and are just scientific processing – meaning that they would not have the ability to have actual feelings.
Studies and Results in History
There have been many studies done on animal emotion, especially in dogs. Many church-funded schools did studies that ultimately resulted in the decision that dogs are not capable of consciousness and feelings, but we don’t know that these were accurate because of the bias in place at the time.
There were many studies done by scientists as well that resulted in similar results, except the scientists argued that the “emotions” that the dogs were “feeling” were actually just reactions. These scientists thought that if you provoke a dog, it’s programmed by its mechanical and chemical processes to react by whimpering or running.
What We Know Now
Science has advanced a lot since those studies. We now know that dogs have the same brain structure when it comes to the portion of the brain that controls emotions that humans have. Dogs have the same hormones go through their bodies that people do and go through the same chemical processes when feeling different emotions that we do. However, dogs are simpler creatures and are not capable of every emotion that humans feel.
What Emotions Do Dogs Feel?
In order to understand what emotions dog’s feel and how they feel them, we first need to understand how dogs develop. The development of a dog is much faster than that of a human. Most dogs reach emotional maturity between four and six months old. The emotions that they attain during this time is about the same as a 2-year old human child. This means that dogs feel all of the basic emotions like fear, anger, joy, love, sadness, and disgust. They are not capable, however, of feeling guilt, shame, and pride.
Many people argue that dogs are capable of feeling guilt because they typically cower when you come home to find the trash can tipped over or a “treat” on the floor, but more than likely this is your dog acting out of fear of being punished rather than actually feeling guilty.