As a dog owner, you have probably asked yourself if your dog can “feel” your emotions. Can your pet sense fear, sadness, joy, and all the other emotions that are part of our everyday life? Can he understand them and make distinctions between them?
Emotions are a shared heritage
Dogs feel emotions just like people do. There is little doubt that the six primary emotions (happiness, surprise, disgust, fear, anger, and sadness) are a shared heritage for our two species and many others. As far as secondary emotions (such as shame or contempt), living with dogs leaves us no doubt that they feel forms of hope (are we going for a walk?) and jealousy (hey, who’s that dog you’re petting?).
Dogs recognize facial expressions, voices, and odors related to emotions
Researchers have shown that dogs’ brains allow them to recognize our facial expressions, emotional changes in our voices, and of course odors and pheromones such as those associated with fear. These abilities are the basis of empathy.
Empathy is a natural characteristic
Dogs are capable of empathy for other dogs and for people. That means that they are capable of perceiving and understanding emotions in others. This is why you have the feeling that your dog consoles you when you’re sad or that he feels your happiness the same time as you do. This also means that he sometimes suffers with you because he senses your sadness and grief.