Scientists do not have the same stance when it comes to the ability of dogs to sense human emotions. For some, it is impossible since dogs don’t even have a sense of self. Their reactions to human emotions can be just related to how they react to other animals of their kind. There are also those who believe that the bond formed between men and dogs is far deeper than what we actually thought. There are studies that can prove that dogs can have certain social skills that not even our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, can do.
Ways Dogs can Sense Human Emotions
• Dogs respond to fear. When they perceive someone having fear over their presence, dogs will sense it immediately. There is no scientific reason behind this. It could be the subtle movements of the body or the facial expressions of those who fear them. This is the reason why they attack more those whom they feel are afraid of them. In contrary, when it is their master who sense fear with another animal, they can also feel it and defend them.
• Dogs can feel human sadness. When their owner is sad, dogs act differently. It is as if they empathize with their owner. There is also no clear reason behind this. The closest logical fact is that humans tend to bend or have a lower posture when they are sad. Dogs could interpret this as a signal for weakness or problem.
• Dogs know it when the owner’s family is happy or not. This is what most trainers say. It was also found out in studies that their stress levels increase if their owner is going through a lot of stress. Therefore, it is suggested to not let the dogs feel the problem with the family and have a jolly vibe to avoid making the dog feel stressed.
• Dogs might also feel guilty. Look at how dogs react when they do something wrong and their owners know about it. They have this “I am sorry” look on their faces. A logical explanation could be a punishment they have experienced before. Since they were heavily punished for doing a wrong act, they are afraid to receive the same treatment for doing the same thing. However, there are dogs that have not been punished at all, but still they have the same response. It could also be because of the facial expression or the change in the vocal tone of their owners.
Benefits of Strong Dog-Human Bonding
For those who have no pet dogs, it might be difficult to explain the relationship between a dog and its master. However, according to studies, this strong bond has positive effects in both the dog and human. It allows both to feel relieved from stress and anxiety especially if they know that there is someone else who can share their feelings. In fact, animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has been medically approved in order to improve the quality of life of some patients with heavy psychological problems.
There might be no clear scientific explanation as to why dogs react the way they do especially when it comes to their master. However, it only proves one thing – that dogs are indeed man’s best friends.