Have you ever heard your friend saying that my dog was sad today or my dog comforts me whenever I am feeling a little out of place? The emotions verbalized by dog owners seem like they come from a real place. For instance, your four-legged friend always wags his tail when you come home. Or else your dog starts growling when a stranger approaches. We interpret the former as your dog is happy to see you, while the latter as your dog is protective of you. In all these situations, there are two things no one can deny.
First, dogs have emotions, and second, dog owners share a special connection with their furry friends. Although, for some people, it is difficult to understand the existence of feelings and emotions in dogs. Perhaps why it is still a point of scientific controversy. For the same reason, many studies have been conducted in the past. And we have a few quoted in this write-up to help you understand the concept of dog emotions.
Studies That Answer Whether Dogs Have Feelings Or Not
Since much of the science related to dog emotions assert the existence of high-level mental functionalities. Here are a few studies that will help you learn why dogs feel and how dog owners can recognize those emotions. New York Times published an article titled Dogs Are People, Too in 2013. This article talked about research conducted on 12 trained dogs. All these dogs were trained to enter the MRI scanners. Once the MRI results came the authors found out that hand signals pointing towards food stimulated the caudate nucleus. It is the region that helps differentiate between the things we enjoy and the things we don’t like.
The caudate nucleus present in dogs witnesses increased stimulation in the presence of a familiar person. Interestingly, the caudate in humans behave the same way when we are in the company of a familiar person. So, through this study, scientists showed similarities between human and dog brain activity. Also, stating that dogs have the capability of sensing and recognizing things as humans do.
Another study, based on the MRI scans reports of 11 dogs went on to say that dogs can read human moods. And the same is possible because dogs can decipher voices registered in their brain. The study noted the activities of 11 dogs sitting inside the MRI for ten minutes while listening to environmental noises, dogs barking, and people talking. Eventually, the authors found out that humans and dogs have the potential to process noise and voices in the same way. Also, indicating that dogs have the ability to recognize voices and decipher them in order to understand the happy and sad emotions.
What Do We now About Dog Emotions So Far
From the studies mentioned above, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that humans and dogs have quite similar brain functions. This means that just like humans can sense and decode emotions even dogs have the ability to detect emotions. In fact, several other studies prove the hypothesis. The only difference is that dog owners understand it better than people who do not have dogs as pets. After all, only dog owners have experience dealing with their activities regularly. Not only this but we also have to give some credit to science because it helps us understand everything factually. Perhaps why we have come to understand that dogs and humans have several commonalities.
Dogs have the same hormones as humans and they go under the same chemical reactions as humans do when experiencing certain emotions. Interestingly, all these emotions that both humans and dogs experience happen because of hormonal presence. This means that dogs might have the same kind of hormones. In fact, dogs do have the same hormones. According to experts, dogs have oxytocin. A hormone that is often associated with feelings of bonding. affection, and love in humans.
All in all, with the same kind of neurology and chemistry, it is safe to say that dogs have emotions. I am sure you are all well aware of the concept of an emotional support dog. If you are, you can probably agree on the narrative we have discussed so far. And to know more about emotional support animals keep reading below.
What Is An Emotional Support Animal?
Emotional support animals are not trained service animals or assistance animals. This category of animals serves people who have mental health problems. For instance, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. You can get an ESA if you have any of the mental conditions that enable you to perform simple day-to-day activities. The process of getting a certified ESA is quite simple. You have to find licensed mental health professionals. Or simply get an ESA letter from a psychologist you take treatment from. The ESA letter will consist of your doctor's approval, mental health condition for which you need an ESA, and the date of issuance. That said, let us move on and find out some interesting things about dogs' emotions.
The Emotions Dogs Actually Experience
If you are a dog owner you are quite familiar with the kind of emotions your dog goes through. However, there are a few things that you might not know. The process is called a developmental sequence to understand the emotions of dogs. Simply put, dogs undergo various stages of development. During these stages, they experience a range of emotional changes. The only difference is that humans have several years to experience emotional factors. On the other hand, dogs have an extremely short life span compared to humans. This is to say that dogs witness the change in emotions more quickly. Their emotions range from joy to fear, anger, sadness, pride, shame, and guilt. However, they will not experience extensive ranges of all these emotions because the process of development passes quite quickly. So, depending on the rate of maturation your dog will start seeing a change in emotions.
The more important fact is that dogs do have emotions and there are several scientific and psychological theories to prove the hypothesis. Many would still argue the point. But they cannot completely deny that dogs do not have emotions. So, it is natural or us to conclude that anything your dog does. From wagging his tail to licking your face, they are adept at feeling and showing emotions.