7 Emotions You Didn't Realise Your Dog Could Feel

As well as how to spot the signs and what to do about them.

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Our dogs are certainly very important, and very
active, parts of our families. And we may feel as though we know them
just as well as we do our relatives. But, can we ever really be sure
what they're thinking, or more importantly, feeling? 

We spoke to certified clinical animal behaviourist and member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, Kris Glover, to get some insight into a variety of emotions that we might over look when it come to our dogs.

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Kris tells us how to spot the signs and, if those feelings and behaviours are negative, what to do to turn them around. 

"Dogs
are emotive beings, who often suffer greatly because people either
disregard their emotions or indeed misinterpret them," says  Kris.

"To be a better dog parent, or dog friend, it is super important you
watch your dog's behaviour more. After all, life with more excitement
and happiness is such a better life than one that has more sadness,
anxiety, fearfulness and disappointment."

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1. SADNESS

How your dog feels...

A
sad dog most likely feels like a sad human. They will be tired,
unenthused and disinterested in doing the things they would have
previously enjoyed. They may also experience a lack in appetite,
be unable to play and become irritable around those who try to socially
interact with them. 

Physically, they will have soulful eyes, long
faces and do frequent short sighs. they will frown and their tails will
be both stationary and have a low carriage.  If we consider how we feel
and act when we are sad, minus the ability to cry, our dogs are likely
to feel and act pretty much the same. 

What can we do about it?

Firstly,
make sure they are definitely not in pain as a pained dog can come
across as being very sad. A quick visit to the vets will rule this out
for you. Next, look at their current routine and check they are getting
enough time for themselves. 

If this isn't the case, increasing
play time, walk time or training time, or a combination of all three,
can turn a sad dog into a happy dog in no time. 

Have they just
lost a close friend?  If so, allow them time to grieve and engage them
in activities that they enjoy as much as you can. 

Are you sad?
Being moody and sad ourselves can rub off on our dogs too so making sure
we are as emotionally and physically well as we can be is also helpful.
Dogs are sad for a reason so it is important that we understand this
reason so we can make life better for them.

2. EXCITEMENT

How your dog feels...

Similar
to us, dogs will be able to predict exciting events by associative
triggers. Bringing the lead out means "whoppee, I am going for a walk".
So dogs that race around, are wiggly, vocalise with high-pitched, short,
sharp barks, whine and bounce are anticipating something fun is about
to begin. They will also have a relaxed face and horizontal and wagging
tail. 

Dogs that are already doing something that is exciting will
display the same lovely wonderful behaviour too. It makes us humans
happy to see a dog enjoying themselves.

3. ANXIETY

How your dog feels...

Dogs
that shake, glue themselves to the spot, tuck their tail underneath
themselves and are reluctant to make eye contact and show the whites of
their eyes are anticipating that something scary might happen. 

They
will pin their ears back, pant heavily, have wrinkles around the
corners of their mouths, become heavy (so are difficult to move unless
it is in a direction to escape) and may lunge, growl, bark, air-snap
and, if pushed, bite. 

Similar to us not running to get into the dentist chair for that
filling, our dogs that are anticipating something unpleasant will do
everything they can to avoid. 

What can we do about it?

In
order to reduce anxiety, we need to understand what is making our dog
anxious. If it is an external stimuli that can be easily avoided then,
until a behaviour expert's help has been sourced, it would be far better
to avoid. 

If it is something the dog has to
be exposed to each day, try to minimise the impact of it as much as you
can. For example, if your dog is anxious about car travel, limit the
amount of travelling he/she needs to do. If your dog is anxious about
being left alone, find a friend to dog sit whilst you are at work. 

Anxiety is a very unpleasant emotional state to be in so please don't delay, get a behaviour expert (from www.abtcouncil.org.uk or www.apbc.org.uk ) to help.

4. FEARFULNESS

A
dog who is already fearful is very similar to one who is anxious.
Arguably, the cognitive function of a fearful dog, as it is with a
human, is less than that of an anxious dog so it could be considered
that anxiety is a more painful state to be in than actual fear. Think of
this next time your dog is in a situation where they are having to
endure anxiety.

What can we do about it?

In
order to reduce fear, the suggestion for anxiety reduction needs to be
followed. Don't try to go it alone, there are qualified behaviour
counsellors close by to support you and your dog.

5. DISAPPOINTMENT

How your dog feels...

The
dog who didn't get the treat from the person who always feeds them, or
the dog whose lead was lifted up and then placed down again - how awful
it is when we are promised something to only have it taken away from us?

We might be able to understand why this is the case, but our dogs will not be able to comprehend this quite so well. 

How
a dog looks and behaves when they are disappointed is going to be much
the same as our poor, sad dog. The soulful eyes, long faces and sighs
are most likely to be seen. A disappointed dog might try a few attempts
at reminding us what we have promised them. So a paw tap, whiz around or
an excited bark might be heard before they finally give up and take
themselves off somewhere to mope. It is important to remember how we
feel when we are let down so we can empathise with how our dogs feel. 

What can we do about it?

To
prevent your dog from suffering disappointment, follow your promises to
them through as much as you can. Don't tease them with the lead unless
you can take them out for a walk.

We
can't always set a dog up for a life free from disappointment, nor
should we, but minimising it as much as possible is much kinder for the
dog. If you have one of those dogs who really doesn't cope well
with disappointment, contact a qualified behaviour expert to help them
learn a little patience.

6. HAPPINESS (this one won't be as much of a surprise...)

Content
humans are relaxed and at peace with life and dogs are no different. A
well exercised, unstressed, adequately fed and watered, comfortable dog
is going to feel and therefore look content. 

They have relaxed
faces, are often stretched out on their beds, sleep soundly, are
difficult to stress and rarely become ill. They will give out one long
sigh before closing their eyes. 

7. FRUSTRATION 

How your dog feels...

A
frustrated dog feels and therefore looks angry, like a frustrated
human. A frustrated dog will make attempts to try and resolve their
frustration by, for example, biting at their lead so they can go and
play with their friend. 

Frustrated dogs will bark in a
high-pitched, loud way for long durations, they will lunge and can
sometimes growl and air-snap too - they are difficult to calm down and
it is also difficult to get their attention. 

What can we do about it?

Being
frustrated is not a nice state to be in so if you have a dog who
exhibits frustration, it is really important to understand the cause and
work with them to help reduce their feelings of frustration.

Via

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