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Emotions Study On Dogs


Hungarian scientists discover that dogs understand our emotions. MRI brain studies proved what pet owners have known for 3,000 years!


February 21, 2014 | TheDogPress.com

Stella Starr, Pet Perspectives


They didn't sedate the dogs for the MRI Emotions Study. They trained them to hop up. (Photo by Borbala Ferenczy)One TV station had a guest who explained that “dogs have voice areas in the same part of their brains that humans do. This would indicate that both species can understand vocal tones that express different emotions, like happiness, anger, distress, or fear.”


Veterinarian Heather Loenser said "I loved how they actually did the study where they didn't sedate the dogs for the MRI. They trained them to hop up on the MRI, and lay there quietly so they could look at their brain activity."


When you know dogs, they are as communicative as most people, especially today’s teenager! We humans tend to humanize our pets. We read things into their actions that science says just can’t happen. At least, that’s what science used to say before the dog-emotion study made news. Now we understand that dogs read our mood and emotions by much more than body language and that a dog’s brain catalogs human emotions based on the sounds we make.


A “house dog” is in close daily contact with people unlike a dog that is kenneled. The personal companion dog clearly recognizes laughter and will respond with perked ears and wagging tail or it will try to comfort an owner who is sobbing in despair or grief.


Love is the most powerful emotion of all. Dog breeders often report having bitches, which in the first few days after having given birth, prefer to nurse sitting up with their puppies spread out like a fan. The mother dog’s expression radiates joy, pride and tender watchfulness as she gazes down at her new treasures. We understand the dog’s emotion as she communicates silently, bending forward, breathing her warmth on each puppy or just touching it with her nose. My cats never sat up like that but they “kiss” their babies, not just clean them.


There isn’t a dog alive that is incapable of love but sadly, we can’t say the same about humans. So now that science has proven dogs understand our vocal emotions, it makes me wonder about human beings who are themselves so emotionally dead or disturbed that they think animals have no feelings. How can any human express their own twisted emotions by being cruel to animals? {1} Would an MRI study reveal that their brain misfires and fails to properly catalog sounds of pain and distress?


Together the horseman and his horse share the same peaceful emotions.When you think about it, other than close family and friends, animals are the safest haven for our deepest emotions. We confide our worries, doubts, fears, and our moments of joy to our dogs whose deep brown eyes gaze and body language clearly say they understand. My cats are not as likely to look up like that but they crook the end of their tail to let me know they heard. Cat owners will be the first to say our pets can sense when something is really troubling us. It is clearly cat emotion and empathy when she chin-bumps the owner.


The horseman may pause for a moment before tossing a saddle onto his mount. The early day is glorious and together, he and his horse share the same peaceful emotions, polished by expectancy of a pleasant time together. Likely, he’ll burst into song when there’s just the two of them and the horse will nod, acknowledging he too feels the joy of the moment. Yes, I know a bit about horses.


Small dogs don’t like being dressed in baby clothes and made to ride in a stroller through the park. They would much rather roll in the grass and a race wildly around the pond but somehow, they sense our emotional need to take care of an imaginary child. We might not be comfortable with the thought but in fact, we talk baby talk to our pets, we lift them up as we would a human baby, we tickle them, dote on them, and doing so gratifies some deep emotional need.


Sociologists have a complicated explanation for this kind of human behavior but I believe it is just a safe way of expressing how much we depend on pets to make us better “people”. If in turn, we meet the physical, medical, and emotional needs of our pets, we have actually met our own and should feel really good about that!


{1} Animal Cruelty And Violent Crime Statistics

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