How happy is a man’s best friend?


Philip Childakos, Staff Writer


Dogs wag their tail as they pant in joy, cats lurk and creep in the dark as they look for solitude. These are ways that we can tell our pet’s emotions, but how sure are we?

It was found that people use their own experiences to fill in the gaps to understand animals’ emotions.  Martine Hausberger at the CNRS at the University of Rennes in France, says that our assumptions are wrong. 

Personally, I have been misconstrued at the zoo many times. I have seen bears decking fists at each other and biting each other’s necks, it was so vicious. But I was reassured by a woman with knowledge of the subject that they were just playing. I was in shock.

Hausberger raises horses and says that people often misjudge their emotions.

Emotions are confusing for all animals. Most commonly people misjudge their dogs’ emotions. 

Dogs do not have a wide range of emotions. The level of emotion a dog will ever experience is the same as an infant who is two-two and one half years old according to Stanley Coren on Modern Dog. Dogs will only experience basic emotions: joy, fear, anger, disgust and love.

Likewise, dogs cannot experience complex emotions like pride, shame, and guilt.

Many say that their dogs feel guilt, especially when they do something wrong while their owner is gone. Then the owner comes home and you can see the dog is acting sluggish or droopy. This is not shame according to Coren but it is a form of fear because the remember that when they do something wrong they will be punished. 

Whether dogs can feel these complex emotions or not, they can certainly feel love according to Coren. Dogs can derive contentment and love from your company, and that’s really what matters in the first place.