Canine Comfort: Dogs Read Our Emotions To Help Us Feel Better

Behavior

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Recently, I became audibly and visibly upset about something going on in my personal life in front of my two dogs, Hank and Charlie. As I sat on the floor crying, Hank came and sat right next to me and licked my face. Charlie laid his head in my lap, looking at me as though he was upset as well.

At first I didn’t think too much of it as I patted them each on the head, but then it dawned on me: I was being comforted by my dogs.

At that moment they knew something was wrong with me. They needed to make sure I knew that they cared.

What Does Science Say About Dogs Reading Emotions?

woman petting dog and looking out window

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Many studies have been done regarding the emotions of our dogs, specifically their reaction to sadness and tears.

In studies published in the journal Animal Cognition, researchers found dogs were more likely to approach a person who was crying, than someone who was singing or talking. The dogs became more submissive to the crying person.

In the case of my dogs, once I stopped crying and regained control of my emotions, they were back to wrestling and chasing squirrels in the backyard.

It’s unclear as to whether dogs are feeling empathetic to human emotions or if they’re simply able to determine our moods by our body language. But one thing is for sure: they know something is different.

Dogs Feel A Lot Of The Same Things We Feel

man lying with dog on bed

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Studies have determined that, although not identical in complexity, dogs share the hormones and undergo the same chemical changes that humans do during emotional states.

“When I’m sick he won’t leave my side if I’m in bed,” said dog parent Tam Rockett. “Usually, he’ll get up and inspect the smallest noise to make sure everything is fine, but when I’m sick, he doesn’t care about any of that.”

For most of us, we don’t care about what what researchers are studying or learning about our dogs. It’s not important for us to know if they can feel anger over fear or happiness over sadness.

All we care about is the sheer joy we get from having our dogs comfort us when we are down.

Do your dogs comfort you when you’re feeling down? Do you think they can read your emotions? Let us know in the comments below!

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