Careful, Your Dog Understands Your Moods!

Careful, Your Dog Understands Your Moods!

We humans really like to feel special, possessing qualities that separate us from other species. The ability to create language or to start a fire, morality and conscious awareness, the concept of time – these things we hold out as evidence of our uniqueness… our superiority, perhaps. Well, grab a hold of something sturdy because findings from a recent study are about to rock your world. We humans may not be all of that and a bag of chips. Careful, your dog understands your moods!

Really, Dogs Understand What’s Going On?

When Mattie spent a week in a critical care facility we had the strangest experience and slowly, we began to realize that he knew a great deal more about us than we thought. Not only did he somehow know when we were coming to visit him, but he also intently watched our faces when we spoke with his internist on five different occasions. The veterinarian made notice, “In my experience there are some animals who have an incredible bond with their human….Mattie is one of those cases.” I remember at the time feeling special…my little guy and I, we’re like that (visualize me sitting at my desk crossing my pointer and index fingers real tight).

Dogs Can Read A Human's Emotions, by Rebecca Sanchez The Pet Lifestyle Guru at MattieDogWhile there’s no denying that Mattie and I have a special bond, there’s emerging research that confirms that dogs can recognize emotions in humans….an ability previously thought to be solely attributed to humans. This fascinating study was conducted by a team of animal behavior experts and psychologists from the University of Lincoln, UK, and the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

In laymen terms, 17 dogs were simultaneously shown images and audio clips of humans and dogs. These images and videos were presented in a variety of consistent and inconsistent ways – happy (smiling or perky ears) images with angry sounds (barking and yelling), sad images (despondent) with happy sounds (giggling). The dogs were unfamiliar with both the humans and the dogs they saw/listened to. Time after time, the dogs spent much more time on the images and sounds that were in synch (happy image with joyful sounds, sad images with whining sounds etc.).

Rest Assured, Your Dog Understands Your Moods

Dogs Can Read A Human's Emotions, by Rebecca Sanchez The Pet Lifestyle Guru at MattieDog

Image: University of Lincoln

Prior to this study, common thinking was that dogs could  tell the difference in human emotions based on cues – mostly human intervention. This research is the first of it’s kind to find that dogs have the ability of emotional recognition. “Our study shows that dogs have the ability to integrate two different sources of sensory information into a coherent perception of emotion in both humans and dogs. To do so requires a system of internal categorisation of emotional states. This cognitive ability has until now only been evidenced in primates and the capacity to do this across species only seen in humans.”

Co-author Professor Daniel Mills, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, said: “It has been a long-standing debate whether dogs can recognise human emotions. Many dog owners report anecdotally that their pets seem highly sensitive to the moods of human family members. However, there is an important difference between associative behaviour, such as learning to respond appropriately to an angry voice, and recognizing a range of very different cues that go together to indicate emotional arousal in another. Our findings are the first to show that dogs truly recognize emotions in humans and other dogs.”

“Importantly, the dogs in our trials received no prior training or period of familiarization with the subjects in the images or audio. This suggests that dogs’ ability to combine emotional cues may be intrinsic. As a highly social species, such a tool would have been advantageous and the detection of emotion in humans may even have been selected for over generations of domestication by us.”

Human-Animal Bond Is Growing

The human-animal bond is a magical thing, and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of how truly similar we are to our beloved pets. This study fascinates me. I believe with all my heart and soul that animals are sentient beings, capable of matter, sensation, perception, mental formations and consciousness. This study from the University of Lincoln moves us one step closer to scientifically affirming that what we as animal lovers know to be true – that animals are so very much more than things or possessions. So, the next time you are thinking that you’d rather sit on your sofa than walk your dog….watch out, because Fido may just know what your thinking…if you wear your emotions on your sleeve!

To read the full study click here: http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/12/1/20150883

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34 Comments

  1. I totally believe this. Dogs are so perceptive. Sometimes it feels like they are reading my mind!

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  2. I definitely know that Henrietta gets my moods. She helps me to calm down and focus when I am stressed because her mood changes and I definitely don’t want her stressed. Great post.

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  3. Mr. N can totally understand moods and I swear he can tell when I’m thinking about taking him for a walk too!

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  4. My dogs have always reacted to our emotions. It is one of their most endearing qualities.

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  5. It isn’t great when science confirms what you’ve known all along!

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  6. I couldn’t agree more! I work with dogs on a daily basis and they all tap into your mood!

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    • Dogs sure do know people’s moods!

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  7. I have no doubt dogs know our moods. It’s nice to see research to back it up!

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    • It is really awesome to see this research get published!

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  8. Such an interesting post! The human-animal bond definitely is a magical thing! I think I’ve known since childhood that my dog could sense my emotions. My 2 dogs now can always tell whether I’m content or going through something negative.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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  9. Gosh I so concur with this. I know that our dog reads our facial expressions. It is amazing how much dogs know, isn’t it?

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    • It truly is – we are just beginning to scratch the surface!

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  10. Dogs are so intuitive that none of this surprises me. Not only that, if you are like me, you wear your emotions on your sleeve, so dogs will recognize grand gestures made in effect to your mood.

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    • Oh absolutely! I can communicate with Mattie through my eyes – he’s that in tuned with what’s going on!

      Reply
  11. My dogs can read my husband and I like a book – every emotion is picked up by all three, I’m so happy there is now science to prove this

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    • It is so wonderful to have this level of connection – it is rewarding!

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  12. Wow, this is so interesting. I’ve always felt that my dogs have been particularly tuned into my emotions as part of our bond. But the idea that they are tuned into all human emotions is so fascinating.

    Last night I discovered my 10 year old daughter had not done any of her homework that was due today (including studying for two tests). It was 8:00 and I was totally stressed and a little frustrated. Ruby (our dog) was right there, watching the (and getting very stressed) the interactions between us. It was very clear that she was feeling our stress and trying to figure out how she could help. Once we settled in for a late night of homework, she was also right there to help. Dogs are truly amazing!

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    • Thanks so much for sharing your story – yes, it does sound like Ruby is so very in-tuned with the emotion in the family. They are natural harmonizers!

      Reply
  13. Great post! We should all be mindful of the energy we share with our companions.

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    • That is very true – they are empathic!

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  14. Who needed research to let us know our fur children were intuitive to our moods?!? We all know that. However, it is very nice to have research to prove it to others. Nice article.

    Reply
  15. think they do understand

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    • They most certainly do!

      Reply

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