Dogs and emotions: What emotions do they feel?

Joy, sorrow, love, anger and fear - that dogs can feel such feelings just as humans, no dog owner will doubt. But what about social emotions like shame, guilt, or contempt that require a complex sense of morality?

For a long time, scientists were in agreement that dogs and other animals have no feelings and only (re) act without feeling anything. This was partly because research in earlier centuries was essentially funded by the church, which at that time had a far greater influence than it does today. It was considered blasphemy to attribute emotions and thus a soul to another living being apart from man. In the meantime, times have changed and it is taken for granted that our beloved four-legged friends also have feelings.

Dogs have feelings like a two-year-old child

The Hundeintelligencez corresponds approximately to the state of an infant at the age of two to three years. The same is true of emotions: Dogs are left with their mental and therefore emotional development where human children are in their mid-third year. Feelings that people develop only after that, so dogs are denied. This is what psychology professor and dog expert Stanley Coren has described in Psychology Today.

However, dogs go through their mental development faster than human children because they grow faster overall and age faster than their two-legged companions. With four to six months - depending on the breed of dog - the formation of the emotional range is completed in the animals. The first feeling that newborn puppies feel is excitement. They either feel calm and balanced or are excited and nervous. Shortly thereafter, negative and positive feelings emerge, first sorrow and suffering, satisfaction and disgust.

The little dog puppies feel a little bit more anxious, followed closely by anger and anger. Only then do they begin to feel joy, before they only feel contentment when their grief - for example, by hunger or thirst - was satisfied. Shortly thereafter, they develop the capacity for mistrust, caution and restraint. Finally, the young dogs learn to feel love and affection; a culmination of her emotional development.

Complex social emotions like shame do not know dogs

In small children, however, the development of the emotional range goes even further, it ends only between the fourth and fifth year of life. Until then, children are gradually getting more and more involved in the complex social rules of interhuman life and developing emotions related to these social norms - that is important to us humans so that we can organize our living together in a human community. Dogs have different social norms among themselves and do not need people's social feelings.

If human children violate social norms and are scolded, they feel shame at first, later blame comes later in their fourth year of life. If they follow the rules and are praised for it, they feel pride. At the age of five children can also feel contempt, for example, when someone else has violated social norms.

Avoid misunderstandings: do not humanize dog feelings

We humans tend to deduce from others and to humanize dogs, for example. This can lead to misunderstandings that prevent appropriate education from being used in case of unwanted behavior. A classic example of this is when you come home and see that your dog has made a pile in the corner and looks at you with wide eyes or pushes against the wall and avoids eye contact. "He is ashamed because he knows what he has done" or "He feels guilty and has a guilty conscience" are then frequent human interpretations of dog body language.

Guilt, shame and guilty conscience dogs do not know. Instead, your four-legged friend is scared at this moment because you're scolding him or because he's noticed that you always get loud when you come home and see a dog peck in the corner. Remember, it does not do any good to punish your dog long after his misconduct has passed. He can not associate your punishment with his deed and only realizes that you are angry and aggressive. It is better to eliminate the dog waste without comment and to search for the cause, why your dog is not housebroken. This principle also applies to other misconduct, such as aggression, excessive yowling and barking or "destructiveness".

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