The Emotions of Canines

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by Doberluv, May 18, 2005.

  1. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I suspect many of you, being dog lovers see what I see in my dogs....as was discussed on another message board, a sense of humor. I see other emotions too and have tried not to attribute excessively or completely my own projection of those signs of emotions. However, I could never discount them as symbolic or as some obscure representation of emotions. They look too much like we do when they display the many types of emotions, body language, facial expressions.

    I would argue with myself sometimes, trying to reduce their similarities to us as illogical, in that they couldn't be as complex as we are because their intelligence isn't as sophisticated as ours, nor are their experiences really the same. I knew they experienced emotions, but to what degree and how in line with ours were they? But their body language, facial expressions and context of these demonstrations coincided so perfectly with what was happening, (play-joy, scolding-dejection, grieving-sadness, mistake-embarrassment, anger, fear etc...) that I was hard pressed to really be able to deny them...any of them.

    I now believe that dogs experience each and every one of the emotions that we do, to some degree of intensity or another. Perhaps with more intensity because they lack the editing that we inject into our emotions by way of our more complex life experiences AND social structure. What lies behind them, as far as complexity or causation probably varies, as it does between individuals anyhow. But, I don't believe that their emotions are as far removed from ours as once was thought. What's more, is that this goes across the board of all mammals. All mammals share common body language and facial expressions in conjunction with the many emotions, as was noted by Darwin.

    What do you think about this, and why?
     
  2. smkie

    smkie pointer/labrador/terrier Staff Member

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    i like to think Renee's qoute about we are all kin fur and skin says it all..i think they feel what i feel..in fact..i know they do. I think they know some stuff we don't as well. sometimes the communication is expressed differently..i learned a few years ago that a dog yawns it means he is confused and doesn't understand the situation..when i read that it made all the sense in the world..i see it all the time now..and when my dogs are truly content and happy..and feeling loved..they make a sucking swallowing sound. The horse whisperer (the real guy) mentioned it about horses and dang if my dogs don't do exactly the same thing...it is us that need to learn their langauge..as much as we expect them to learn ours.
     
  3. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    Thanks, Smkie. That just occurred to me one day when I was contemplating all the inequities we place on our fellow creatures' backs.

    I think it takes and incredible amount of hubris to think that we have the sole rights to intelligence, rational thought, emotion, language. We don't understand our fellow creatures, therefore they must be inferior to us in mental capacity has been the western dogma. That makes as much sense as believing that those of a different color or cultural practices aren't as "civilized" or capable as we.

    Science be damned. Once upon a time "scientists" believed the sun circled the earth; now we know better. Science never has all the answers and shouldn't be treated with such reverence. Science takes itself much too seriously and chooses to ignore the fact that things exist whether Science acknowledges their existance or not. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

    --From Hamlet (I, v, 166-167)
     
  4. bubbatd

    bubbatd Moderator

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    This is interesting as I've always thought my dogs had a great range of emotions. Like children, the more they have been spoken to the more they understand. The bigger our sense of humor...theirs grow. It's always amazed me the number of words and jesters my dogs understand. Since I always loaded the dogs into the car for trips to town they always would get all excited without me saying a word. When they couldn't go with me they seemed to know. My one female, Copper Fox was with all others in the hallway when I came down stairs once...they all looked up with anticipation , but Copper looked at my shoes saw heels and just sighed and all put their heads down. Daughter always said she heard the clicky heels. I've got another story....but will post later.
     
  5. EliNHunter

    EliNHunter New Member

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    I know... Copper knew just by the "clicky heels" that she wasn't going anywhere. And the other dogs read her language or read her mind or however they communicate (and they do!) and just went with the flow. Needless to say, those were the goldens. If there was a lab there, they'd still be jumping in your face saying "I don't care! I don't care! Take me with you! Take me with you!" :rolleyes:
     
  6. bubbatd

    bubbatd Moderator

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    On one of my trips to the grocery , I had Bushwacker, Bear, Copper and I.B. in my Trooper....I could always trust them not to jump out. When I left the grocery, there was Copper in the lot next to my Trooper, with the others heads out of the window saying " Oh God, what has she done" !!!!! As I got to the car, ready to scold her, here was a huge pile of poop near the rear wheel ..... poor girl had to decide the worst of the 2 evils !!! Needless to say, I didn't scold her... Gave her a hug, cleaned it up and off we went. I also was able to put grocery bags in with them ....only one problem. I glanced once (not that trip) in my rear view mirror and saw 3 golden eyes with horror on their faces, and there was Bubba with a cookie in his mouth !!! His face was definitely , what did I do, what did I do !!!! I pulled over, resealed the bag and that was the end of that trick. They're sooooooooooooo special !!!!!
     
  7. showpug

    showpug New Member

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    I truly think dogs have a better understanding of the ability to love and forgive then we ever will. I will never understand the people who hate dogs. What a horrible handicap to live with :( My dogs have emotions and I think that they are deeper than mine.
     
  8. CreatureTeacher

    CreatureTeacher New Member

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    Doberluv, you've GOT to read this book: Minding Animals by Marc Bekoff.

    Dr. Bekoff is a scientist-turned-activist. I had the pleasure of meeting him and his dogs when he was teaching at CU. Brilliant guy. His conclusion is that yes, he believes animals experience emotions. They may not experience them in the same way we do, but that doesn't make their feelings any less valid. You may or may not know that the scientific community tends to frown on anthropomorphizing animals, but Dr. Bekoff's point is that if this is what we have to do to put them into a "frame" so we can understand them, then there's nothing at all wrong with it. A wonderful book. :)
     
  9. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    I've often wondered what kind of framework different animals use to try to understand US!

    For that matter, we can't understand each other without a framework of our own experiences. Every way I look at the issue just brings me back to the concept that there is very little appreciable difference - only slight variances - in any of us who crawl, run or fly within the confines of the Earth.
     
  10. Gustav

    Gustav Don't encourage me..

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    I think that domestic dogs learn to an extent, their emotional behaviour from us! As we become the pack leader they pick up on our behaviour as to what is acceptable and what is definatley not accepable! I mean Gus has learnt behaviour that has no equal in wild dogs! He actually lifts up his top lip and smiles at me!! :D This is a sign of anger / agression in wild or domestic dogs and when my mums dog Barley is visiting he actually sees this as agression, but Gus has learnt this from me because I smile at him and now he sees it as a positive thing (and wonders what Barley's problem is!!)!
    I know for a fact that he laughs too! And I have the pictures in my gallery to prove it!! :D
     
  11. Amstaffer

    Amstaffer New Member

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    I couldn't say it better....It is so funny (or sad) watching my fellow humans try to think of reasons why humans are sooooo superior to animals.
     
  12. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    See, they're quicker to learn our language than we are to learn theirs! NOW which is the more intelligent animal, lol!
     
  13. CreatureTeacher

    CreatureTeacher New Member

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    Did you know that dogs can't learn the submissive grin from other dogs? They only learn it from humans smiling at them. I LOVE the doggy grin, but it tends to get them in trouble with folks who don't know what they're looking at! :D
     
  14. Barb04

    Barb04 Love my pets Staff Member

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    Max has really begun to show how he feels now that Kona is around. If Max feels you have played with Kona (even training) too much, he sits at the end of the hallway with his head between his legs and his eyes give you this sad look. I go over to him and tell him how much I love him, and he puts his head on me. Oh it's so pitiful. I take Max into the backyard and play soccer with him. Kona is learning to play soccer now too after watching Max do it. CJ likes to watch from the sidelines. Max will always be so special to me because he has so many emotions and they really show though.
     
  15. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Yes, I know about Bekoff. His most recent book is The Smile Of The Dolphin. I haven't read either, but would like to. This stuff is fascinating! Thank you for the recommendation. That must have been quite cool to meet him! Wow! I have read about him though and this is some of what I read...somewhat paraphrased:

    Attributing human qualitites to animals has long been viewed skeptically by the scientific community. Behaviorists such as John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner looked at a 400 year old philosophy of Rene Descartes and re-examined this all these years later. They say that they know that a dog looks happy but can't know whether the dog feels happy. Recently a neurobehaviorist reinforced the classic distinction between emotional behavior and emotional feelings by focusing his investigations on the neurochemical substrates and brain regions that correlate with emotional behavior.

    Charles Darwin characterized emotions as adaptive responses that aid animals in relaying important survival related messages to one another. Fear, for example, motivates us to fight, flee, or freeze, as well as to avoid known threats. Darwin spent considerable time studying the facial expressions of domestic dogs. Darwin noticed that facial muscles in mammals, including humans are universally raised or lifted in states of apparent joy, and lowered in response to sadness or grief. Darwin described several distinct emotional expressions in dogs, including attention, anger, fear, dejection, affection, joy, and excitement. He showed detailed descriptions of the facial expressions, ear position, tail carriage, vocalizations and posture that distinguish each feeling and make each recognizable to other dogs and mammals, including humans. Since all these expressions are shown in all mammals, they are innate and indicate considerable emotional continuity among mammals. Another scientist notes that evolutionary theory can't account for a spontaneous appearance of emotion in humans; there must have been nonhuman precursors. Mounting evidence of genetic and brain similarities between humans and animals suggest he is right. (so we "learned" from the animals, not the other way around)

    There are two categories of emotions: primary and secondary. Primary are considered to be innate and reflexive. Fear, fight and flight, freeze responses to danger do not have to be learned. Secondary or complex emotions are derived from higher order thought processes and include the social emotions that arise within relationships; love, guilt, shame, embarrassment... There is convincing evidence that babies begin to exhibit evidence of complex emotions at about 18 months of age. These scinentists think that since these social emotions maintain and derive from the social bonds necessary for mammalian survival, they are therefore shared by other mammals.

    Darwin observed that canine displays of affection almost always involve licking the hands or faces of their masters, seeking physical contact like apping and often a submissive gesture like exposing their bellies. Darwin speculated that physical contact and licking are innate components of the expression of love, as they are universal maternal gestures in canines and other mammals.

    Scientists who study animal behavior have also observed cases of empathic behavior in animals. Empathy is regarded as a good fit with evolutionary theory: Empathic behavior benefits the group and promotes its survival as a whole. In Bekoff's recent book, The Smile of a Dolphin, he reported scientific accounts of dogs acting compassionately toward ill or injured animals. We have all heard stories of dogs risking their lives to help others, and those familiar with therapy work know how gentle and responsive dogs can be toward the infirm.

    Bekoff notes that it is hard to know how emotional experiences differ even from one human to another. He says that animals emotions may be even more intense than humans because they are pure and unedited, like those of young children who have not yet been socialized to refrain from displaying their anger in public, for example. He says that we should be careful about projecting our own feelings onto an animal but we should instead try to understand the dog's unique experience and perspective. A dog may act destructively out of anxiety, boredom or anger. The challenge is to differentiate the dog's experince from our own. He says too that while dogs are loyal with their love and tend not to betray affectional relationships, he says that a dogs love is not unconditional. Just as it's behavior is not robotic, neither is it's affection. Unconditional love is wishful thinking on our part, he suggests.

    Science has long been reluctant to attribute too much to cognitive sophisitication to animals; nowadays science is increasingly reluctant to attribute too little.

    Dogs enrich our lives specifically because of their emotional nature.
     
  16. bubbatd

    bubbatd Moderator

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    I can hardly wait for our Zoo's new Dolphin pool to open !!! They've added a Lab and a Golden to interact .
     
  17. becca_4321

    becca_4321 New Member

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    I have spent my hole life beliving dogs and other animals do have emotions. I remember when I was a kid in school there was a teenager who had a dog, he loved his dog so much and the two went everywhere together that they could. The kid was killed in a car accident and within a month the dog died, it had grieved itself to death.
    They can get depressed, they get sad over things, they get jealous, they get mad and may even throw a fit because of something, they get excited over things and of people, they show love and they show fear. Years ago before the laws said a dog couldnt run free I had my Bojangos. He was my pride and joy. I had to leave for a few months to help my grandfather care for my dying grandmother. My parents took care of Bojangos for me. He had a dog friend that would come play with him everyday. Bojangos got hit by a car. Mom said he just laid on the padio, wouldnt even try to move but this dog would come over and spent hours trying to get Bojangos to get up. I could go on and on with examples to show that a dog truely does show emotions and I cant for the life of me understand how a person can say they dont.
    Most people know monkies can show emotions, the babies can grief themself to death with the lose of a parent, the elders will paddle the young for bad behaviour (I watched this at a zoo once), they are considered closest thing to a human. So why is it so hard to belive a dog or any other animal cant and doesnt show any emotions. It's more like people dont want to see it. If they were able to see an animal have emotions they wouldnt be able to hunt, eat meat, ect. So it's easier to allow themselves to think it's just an animal.
    I guess I'm kind of the same because I dont allow myself to think of a chicken, turkey, cow or pig as having anykind of feelings or emotions. If I did I wouldnt be able to the meat.
     
  18. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Becca, that is such a good post. I agree. What stories you had about the dogs.

    When I was a kid we had two dogs, the mom and son. The son repeatedly got hepatitis....no vaccines then and he finally had to pts at age 15. The Mom lasted about a month and then she just died. Of course, she was old and not well...18 years old, so one can't say that she died of a broken heart or just died from old age, but it makes me wonder if she would have lasted a little longer if Bruno would have still been around. But yes....I know they grieve. My Doberman Lyric really showed his emotions when I had to put Bonnie, my Lab down, just a few months ago. He cried and cried and searched and searched for her. The two little dogs weren't as noticable, but were quite subdued. After a week or two, they were all seemingly OK again.

    It's interesting....all these scientists have to show studies and data to support their opinions. We already knew all that a long time ago, didn't we. LOL!
     
  19. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    Bimmer grieved and grieved over Buffy. He moped. If we said her name he would jump up to go look for her, and he wouldn't even go out in the pasture with the Jeep until shortly after we brought Shiva home. He began to perk up and show some interest in Shiva, and she pretty much just wore him down until he gave in to her and started to play games with her and teach her things.

    But even now, if we talk about Buffy, he will whine.
     
  20. Gustav

    Gustav Don't encourage me..

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    My auntie had a Sheltie who grieved to death after she died of Ovarian Cancer! :( He was inconsoleable (sp?) there was nothing anyone could do to persuade him to eat or go outside!!
     

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