I’ve always been a huge dog lover. I’m extremely emotional towards my two golden doodles and I’ve always assumed that they’re emotional in response, whether they are wagging their tails or cowering in the corner or completely ignoring me. I want to believe that they are perceptive to my feelings but of course, they are animals and they don’t exactly have the intelligence or sense of feelings that humans do. So, I had to ask the question: do my dogs love me back?
According to Psychology Today, my intuitions could be plausible. After studying the brains of dogs, researchers have come to discover “that dogs have all of the same brain structures that produce emotions in humans” (Which Emotions Do Dogs Have 3). Scientists have found that the brain in a dog releases the same chemicals that the human does to create emotions. Dogs have the same hormone Oxycontin as humans, which allows one to feel love and compassion.
One key difference though, is that humans feel these emotions more passionately than dogs. This article claims that the range of emotions that dogs feel is equivalent to that of a two and a half year old child. These emotions develop over time, although this occurs faster than it does in humans. Love might not come immediately from your pooch. Instead, they grow into the emotion like any human “learns to love” someone.
One emotion that dogs apparently cannot feel is guilt. Rather, they feel fear which is why they tend to cower when they experience this sensation. Therefore, rather than a dog feeling guilty for eating that birthday cake you left on your counter when you went out, they dog feels threatened by a punishment that might come.
The answer to the question imposed in the beginning of this blog is yes, it is possible for your dog to love you. If you have developed a consistent and loving relationship with your dog throughout the years, it is completely rational that they might feel the same way back.
- Coren, Stanley. “Which Emotions Do Dogs Actually Experience?”Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. Sussex Directories, Inc., 15 Mar. 2013. Web. 19 Sept. 2014. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201303/which-emotions-do-dogs-actually-experience>.