Dogs Have Toddler-Like Emotional Complexity

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shutterstock_109780259If you’re like most dog owners, you likely wonder about the emotional depth of your furry friend. Does he or she experience joy and distress, or are we trying to hard to humanize our canine companions?

Thankfully, science is finally coming up with a clear answer. According to Psychology Today, dogs have the emotional complexity of a two to two and a half year old human child. Research shows that dogs reach the height of their emotional development after four to six months. After that, they will experience affection/love, joy, suspicion, shyness, anger, fear, disgust, contentment, distress, and excitement/arousal for the rest of their lives.

Dogs aren’t capable, however, of experiencing emotions like contempt, guilt, pride, and shame. When they leave you a smelly treat on your carpet or rip open your pillow case, the whimpering sound they make when you discover their disobedience isn’t a sign of guilt, but fear.

For those of you who are skeptical of the legitimacy of such psychological research, biochemistry is also on the side of this research. Dogs have the hormone oxytocin, which in humans is associated with feeling love and affection for others.

This can help us better understand the type of attention and activity that our dogs truly need and seek. They require a lot commitment, just like humans. This involves spending a decent amount of quality time with them every day, because their squeaky toy can only fill the void for so long.

Fortunately, for people with busy schedules, help is available to make sure your dog gets the attention, physical activity, and mental stimulation he or she needs! At Walk!ATX, we take your pet’s emotional well being seriously, and are committed to helping you make sure your pet is as healthy and happy as possible. Call us today at (512) 655-9557 for more information about our dog walking, dog training, and pet sitting services!