Inside dogs' brains
“Dogs are smarter than most people give them credit for and there’s no denying that they have a mind of their own and can experience a range of emotions including guilt, joy, frustration and grief,” says Linda Simon, a licensed veterinarian. For instance, we’ve all witnessed the “sad eyes” of a dog being reprimanded or that brief look of disgust on their face when the cat gets the treat instead of them. There have even been accounts of bereaved dogs who have waited loyally for their deceased owners to return. Clearly, they’re thinking about something.
But what, exactly, are our dogs thinking about as they go about their lives?
It’s important to avoid “anthropomorphising” your pet – attributing human thoughts and characteristics to non-humans because that assumes they see, think and feel the same way you do, Simon says. To bond with your dog, it’s important to try to understand what they’re thinking rather than putting your thoughts on them, she says.
Here are some common thoughts that dogs have:
“Hey, I love you!”
Dogs, unlike other pets, are often quite open in letting us know how they feel about us. “There’s a reason we refer to them as man’s best friend,” Simon says. “When your dog jumps up on you as you walk through the door, wags their tail when they spot you from afar and covers you in slobbery kisses, you can be confident they’re thinking ‘Hey, this person is pretty swell!’” she says.
To make sure you get the message, check out these 28 ways your pet is trying to say “I love you.”
“You hurt my feelings!”
“Some dogs are particularly sensitive to criticism and may exhibit signs of anxiety when being reprimanded, such as hiding away or even trembling,” Simon says. “Other dogs will act quite unfazed by a good scolding or even cocky, and as soon as you’re done, it’s clear they’re not thinking about it at all anymore.” However, it is important to recognise if you have a sensitive dog and use a positive training program to help allay their anxiety, she says.