Can Your Dog Read Your Emotions?

Dogs are much more perceptive than we think.  You may not be able to talk with him about your bad day at work but when he lies next to you with his nose on your lap, you can tell he just gets it.

Did you know a dog’s mind is roughly equivalent to that of a human two-year old’s and they have the social consciousness of a teenager? The following are emotions dogs can sense you are feeling:

dog emotionsSadness: When you are down in the dumps, your dog will probably act extra-tame. Why do you think they use dogs for therapy for sick and elderly people? Scientists are still a few steps away from saying dogs have true empathy for humans but they are optimistic. In a study published in the journal Animal Cognition dogs would lick all around sad people’s hands or faces and some sweetly brought over toys.

Unfairness – Your dog may notice if you play favorites with other pets. In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that when dogs saw other dogs getting treats for a trick they’d been performing unrewarded, the uncompensated dogs became visible distressed. In the study, as long as both dogs received a treat, one with a piece of sausage, the other with a piece of bread, both dogs were happy.

Priorities – When a baby comes home from the hospital and your pet is not longer the focus of your attention, he’ll pick that up pretty quickly. In some cases it can even lead to depression. Make sure you show love to your dog as well as your baby. A good suggestion is to bring an extra swaddling blanket to the hospital, wrap the baby in it, then bring it home and put it where your dog sleeps. This way your dog gets used to the scent from the very beginning and associates it with something he likes.

Annoyed or mad – If you’re angry with your dog, he’ll act submissive. That’s where the puppy dog look comes in. Interestingly enough, dog owners who scolded their pets whether or not they acted up, found the guilty look didn’t necessarily correspond to the dogs that actually had been naughty.

Fear – If something is menacing in your home, say a rat or intruder, as soon as you give off scared vibes, your dog will pick up on them. Unless you have a breed of dog that acts more as a guardian, your dog will most likely be just as scared as you are in that frightening situation. Your dog will usually mimic your emotion you put out. For example if you act cautiously and shy away, your dog probably will too.

Generosity – Did you know dogs watch and listen to your social interactions with other humans? In a study done out of the University of Milan, researchers had dogs observe two actors: one who kindly shared his cereal and sausage bits with a beggar, and another who shooed off the beggar harshly. Scientists found that, more often than not, dogs approached the more generous person when prompted—and it seems that a friendlier tone of voice made a difference. So beware: Your dog may judge your personality while you yell at your husband or kids.

Sickness – Believe it or not, it is not an urban legend that dogs can sniff out sickness. A fascinating research shows that many diseases, like lung cancer and prostate cancer, cause the body to give off odors that dogs are able to detect. In certain situations, a dog’s nose is between 1,000 and 10,000 times better than a human being’s. Dogs may not necessarily know if something is wrong, but they can tell something is definitely different.

Attention – Your pet is most likely sneakier than you think. In a study, researchers put treats on the floor in front several dogs, forbidding them to eat the food. The dogs behaved as long as the person watching them stayed in the room. When the person left, the dogs ate the treats within 5 seconds.


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