What human emotions do dogs express and not express? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-26-2014, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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What human emotions do dogs express and not express?

IMO dogs express:

fear (Zeeva shivers during fireworks),

guilt (contrary to what many have said, I've seen ears back, slumped posture during a castigation),

happiness (zoomies before a walk when I put my tennis shoes on; tail

irritation (whining when they have to go pee or want something),

contentment (on the flip side of irritation, my two can lie around and (I think?) they're content in those moments)

curiosity and suspicion (Zeeva looks under the bed when I do),

excitement (both of mine are aware when someone new is at the door)

stubbornness (if I don't have a treat, most of the time, Smokey doesn't listen even if I ask him repeatedly),

These are the emotions that I think dogs do not express:

conscientiousness (they don't care if they will hurt your feelings by doing something wrong; they don't care how they appear to others)

pride (they don't care if they've achieved something new or gotten a title or a ribbon)

contempt (I don't think dogs have a memory long enough to hold a grudge and take revenge or even to vindicate someone)

shyness (I think some may confuse this with fear but I don't think dogs have the capacity to feel conscientious and therefore can't really feel shy either)

Any emotions you'd like to add to either of the lists? Any you'd like to take off of one list and add to the other?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-26-2014, 06:23 PM
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Is is possible to feel guilty if you don't have a conscience?
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-26-2014, 06:29 PM
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This one:
"guilt (contrary to what many have said, I've seen ears back, slumped posture during a castigation)."

I do not believe that a dog feels guilt. They live in the moment. They may remember where something tasty was hours ago, and they may remember that when they were eating something tasty in the kitchen you came in and said BAD!!!! They can remember and do not do the thing again, because they become trained by associating the negative marker with the action. But if they do it again, because the smell is just too enticing, that they go over and above their trepidation of what they associate with eating that. At that point, if you come in and say BAD!!! again, then you have probably effectively taught them not to do that one thing.

But, if you do not catch them in the act and correct, you have taught them that sometimes eating tasty stuff in the kitchen will be negative and sometimes positive. In no way are they guilty.

When they have managed to eat the thing, and later you walk in the room and find it gone, and call the dog with a negative tone in your voice, the dog slinks in, not because he is guilty, but because you are exuding bad vibes that he can hear and smell. And he knows that when that tone is in your voice and that smell is coming from you, bad stuff happens. It isn't guilt.

If you are seeing what looks like guilt from your dog, then you are probably being a bully. And teaching your dog not to come to you. And teaching your dog that you are not a stable leader. Or you have a soft dog that melts like butter for no reason at all. And all you can do is to try and make sure you are not praising her for acting like a weenie.

And this one:
"stubbornness (if I don't have a treat, most of the time, Smokey doesn't listen even if I ask him repeatedly)."

If you ask a dog to do a thing repeatedly, you are teaching your dog to ignore you. It is not stubborn. It is the simple fact that you do not say what you mean. You are not clear. The dog knows that sometimes when you say sit, and he sits, he gets a treat. Sometimes when you say sit, and he sits, he does not get a treat but you are happy. Sometimes you say sit, but you don't really mean it. Eventually, you will say it like you mean it, and he will do it. It is not stubbornness, it is bad training.

Usually what is seen as stubbornness in dogs is actually a dog that is either uncertain of the command or tone of the command, meaning uncertain of a command. Our tone and body language is often more important than the words. How many of us have wanted our dogs to DOWN, and have said SIT and the dog went down? Why, is the dog psychic? No, there must be something in our body language that said DOWN to the dog. He can hear, but maybe body language talks to him louder than the voice.

Or stubbornness is actually shutting down. A dog who is both soft and unsure of the command, getting mixed signals, will often fail to move at all, or move very slowly because the dog is afraid of doing the wrong thing. If you see signs of stubbornness in your dog, rethink how you are training. And, stop repeating yourself. Tell your dog once, give him a chance to comply (seconds), and then help him do what you commanded. Repeating is nagging and teaching your dog to ignore you. Giving a command once and then following through, teaches your dog that he must do this action when you say these words. It is really quite simple. And there is nothing stubborn about it.

"contempt (I don't think dogs have a memory long enough to hold a grudge and take revenge or even to vindicate someone)"

I don't know whether dogs experience contempt, but they can have memory and a bitch can remember another bitch and remember that she hates the other bitch, she can wait for an opportunity, and she will attack. And that memory can be months, maybe years. Perhaps their scent discrimination is so good that some dogs' scents go into the HATE file in their brain. I don't know. They can also remember the scents of humans. They make strong associations that can last a long time.

I think that canine emotions are different than human emotions, they are closer to nature, in that they are not weighed down/watered down by a moral structure that most humans are subjected to. We tend to grade emotions as appropriate or inappropriate, and if we feel they are inappropriate we try to deny them and hide them. Dogs are not as complex. A bitch will feel jealous when she sees her owner petting another bitch. She may nudge in between, she may try to push the other bitch away, she might attack the other bitch. It could be resource guarding, but the hurt, anger, and frustration in her vocalization really makes it seem like jealousy. She is not hampered by feeling conflicted as to whether or not her feeling is appropriate, she may have been punished for doing this, so she may have an added fear or negative association that may inhibit the vocalization .

Dogs feel happiness, contentedness, excitement also on a raw, uninhibited level. Perhaps that is something that we are drawn to in dogs. Something that we are not in touch with in ourselves we can experience through them.

I also think that dogs can feel shy. It may not be the same as human shyness. But they may not like people looking at them and making much of them. Dogs like this prefer to not be the center of attention, and ignoring these dogs will bring them closer to you quicker than anything else.

And some can exhibit something that looks very much like pride. When they have done something good, we give them a treat, good boy. The dog is happy, wags tail, is ready to do something else good. The dog does a complicated series well, we party, the dog gets excited. The dog does something awesomely well, we say "what a good boy you are!" and the dog becomes positively puffed up. How much of that is just seasoning? They are, some of them experts, at reading us and responding to those things that we have given a positive response to. On the other hand, show dogs have to have more than good structure and a well-groomed clean coat. They have to have attitude. They have to walk, trot, show like a champion. Is it pride? Probably not. And yet it is something. I know that when mine get the colored ribbons they are super happy, because they know I am super happy. So while I think the exhibit something like pride, I do not believe it is pride. I don't think their brains work in such a way as to think, "I am better than others at this."

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Last edited by selzer; 04-26-2014 at 06:34 PM.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-26-2014, 06:35 PM
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Dogs don't have human emotions apart from what humans give them.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-26-2014, 06:45 PM
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How about expectant or hopeful. Like when you are sitting there on the couch with a bowl of popcorn -- need I say more?

Loneliness, depression, loss. What makes a dog sit at the window for five days waiting for his deceased owner to return?

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-26-2014, 07:03 PM
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Can dogs really feel guilt? | Smart Animal Training Systems...

an excerpt from the article
Research seems to indicate that our dog’s mind, with all its mental abilities and emotions, is roughly equivalent to that of a 2 ˝ year old human child (Stanley Coren, 2013). These findings would suggest that dogs would have similar emotions to human children, yet not as many as human adults. The more complex emotions, such as shame, pride, guilt or contempt appear only between 3 -4 years of age. So according to these studies, our pooches will have all the basic emotions such as joy, fear, anger, disgust and even love, but not the more complex ones such as guilt, pride or shame.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-26-2014, 08:38 PM
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Can Dogs Experience Guilt, Pride, and Shame: Why Not? | Psychology Today

Part of article...
"We also don't know if dogs experience guilt, pride, and shame. However, because it's been claimed that other mammals with whom dogs share the same neural bases for emotions do experience guilt, pride, and shame and other complex emotions (see also and and), there's no reason why dogs cannot. And, there's solid biological/evolutionary reasons to assume dogs can and do. Recall Charles Darwin's ideas about evolutionary continuity in which the differences among species are seen to be variations in degree rather than kind - "If we have or experience something, 'they' (other animals) do too."

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-26-2014, 08:47 PM
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This is an intriguing topic, great question! I'll have to think about this a bit...
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-26-2014, 08:53 PM
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Hmmm, see I think they know guilt. We could come home, open the door, and our old dog would greet us with tail between the legs and licking his lips before slinking off to my bedroom. This is all before we've seen anything, or even anticipated anything because it was rare to have him do something wrong. So we were in no way giving off bad vibes or tones, but sure enough, if he was acting like that normally it was for counter surfing and grabbing the spoons or something off the counter. And we were NEVER a bully to him.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-26-2014, 09:07 PM
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I dont know, dexter displays some very interesting behavior sometimes. He sulks ( like hides his head ) if I say "no" loudly and will not look at me for hours afterwards..he has always been like that. Dexter barks loudly when tyson is chewing something he is not supposed to then he wags his tail when I catch tyson in the act. He is in tune with us more so then the others 2, maybe its because we have had him since he was 8 weeks and the others are older rescues?. He understands everyones names, grandma, mommy, dad, jackson, brendan, evan even the other 2 dogs he will go too if we tell him too. He understand "going to the boat" because he grabs his floaty ball and gets in the van. Maybe im just having a sentimental moment but maybe someone who has a dog like that can relate.

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