Dog Behavior and the Expression of Emotion

  • Dog Behavior and the Expression of Emotion

    July 1, 2021 By Rufus 0 comments

    There has been a ton of speculation as of late on dogs and their experience and expression of emotion. Are they feeling in the sense that we do? Are they only responding from instinct and what is happening at the time? What about dogs and emotion?


    Why do dogs smile? These questions are an ongoing consideration by us dog behaviorists and lovers. We speak authoritatively as if to know such a great deal more than we really do. Thanks to scientific study and our ability to analyze thought and the brain as we might suspect the idea, we are better able to understand what is happening in the minds of humans. We are also making great progress in learning more about the degree of awareness of animals, specifically our canine companions.

    Working with rescue dogs, I can disclose to you that dogs certainly experience various emotions. Who knows the exact process or if their emotion can or should be rated or in any capacity equated to a human emotion. Since I do not have any other language, I’ll use human emotion as my way of labeling a dog’s expression. Here are a couple of my observations:

    • Dogs smile when they see us smile at them.
    • It may not be an emotion, however it is anything but an expression – I have seen more than one dog turn a shade of green after eating something that was not meant for consumption.
    • A tail wag and a crab crawl toward the human hand that is reaching to give affection, is unquestionably a chuckle.
    • A tail fold and cartoon-like run as they spin around the yard or room is a snapshot of unadulterated bliss.
    • Our dogs racing to grab a treasured toy when we arrive home is much the same as a youngster who runs to welcome a parent after work showing them their latest creation? (Everything seems more valuable when you can share it!)

    Does it really matter on the off chance that we know exactly what caused the snapshot of shared or spontaneous happiness? We do not stop when a human smiles at us to ask them what they are specifically feeling at this second. We just appreciate the smile. While I discover the study of emotion (canine and human) fascinating, the most important thing is to be at the time and to share it!

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