Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.
When was the last time you saw a pup and said aww! You feel an immediate attraction and connection with dogs because of their innocent face and their infectious spirit overloaded with cuteness. The ‘Vibe’ you feel with them is the same feeling they also go through.
Do Dogs Understand Human Feelings?
Dogs have an innate sense of understanding emotions around them.
If they sense danger, they bark. If dogs feel love and attention, they wag their tails. If they sense fear, they curl their tails and run away. These are nothing but emotions that a dog projects on every human around. Whether they are pets or stray, they immediately sense these feelings.
Dogs are intelligent beings. An average canine has a learning capacity of nearly 165 words, including signals and gestures. A ‘super-dog’ has a learning capacity of almost 250 words, and they fall in the top 20% category of dog intelligence.
Their sixth sense makes them comprehend facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice, and body language. They tend to tilt their head trying to understand what you are saying. As per Marcello Siniscalchi of the University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy, ‘Negative emotions are processed by the right side of the dog’s brain and the left side processes positive emotions.’
Their judgement of the situation, or interaction with humans, attributed to a more significant emotional response.
For example, if you, as a pet-owner, feel upset or depressed, your pet will immediately sense your emotional state by your facial expression or movement and come up to you to cheer you up. Their ability to judge these emotions is a clear indicator of their understanding of human feelings.
A dog will be very loving towards family members, especially babies. But if a stranger appears at the doorstep, they will immediately react and bark. Familiarity with the person can eventually lead to a more comfortable ambiance at home; however, sometimes, the person’s vibe can be damaging and may not be entertained by your pet dog.
Of the many tales that we recall of dogs understanding human emotions and being there for them, one has stuck with us to date.
Former Senior Airman David Sharpe adopted a pit bull puppy from an animal shelter post his deployment in Saudi Arabia and named him Cheyenne. Sharpe was suffering from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD and often had violent outbursts. He used to wake up angry and helpless because of what he had gone through in his deployment. Post the dogs’ adoption, unknowingly, Cheyenne and Sharpe were engaging in animal-assisted therapy, also known as pet therapy. The little pup was always around.
During a particular outburst in the kitchen, Sharpe was about to end his life. Cheyenne walked up to him, sat next to him, and sensed something was wrong. He immediately started licking Sharpe’s cheeks, tickled him, and made him laugh. That’s when Cheyenne understood the veteran’s emotion and stopped him from taking a drastic step.
These stories, and many others, highlight time and again that dogs feel human emotions and understand them better than anyone else. The age-old adage, ‘A dog is a man’s best friend,’ is coined for a reason, love, and emotions.
So the next time you think your dog does not understand your emotions or feelings, think again.