Is Your Dog an Empath?

Blond happy girl with her chihuahua doggy portrait lying on lawn
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Do you feel like your dog understands you? Maybe even more than humans sometimes? 

He seems to know when you’re sad and in need of an extra snuggle. He knows when you’re happy and jumps for joy along with you. He even knows when you’re angry and he should go sit quietly in the corner and be a good boy. 

He gets you. 

Can it really be true? Is there science to prove that dogs can pick up on human emotions?

Dogs See Emotion on Our Face

Studies have shown that dogs actually pay attention to the human face. 

When you’re talking to your dog, does he look at you? At least at the beginning? Do you feel like he’s trying to figure out your mood? 

Well, he very well may be. 

“Dogs have been shown to excel in reading human social cues, including facial cues,” says a study published in Frontiers Behavioral Neuroscience. To further explore the topic, a group of scientists used eye-tracking technology to study how dogs process human facial expressions. Turns out, dogs not only look at our faces – they are especially prone to look at our eyes! 

Yep, dogs may be able to actually see our emotions. We may not be able to fully understand how dogs see us or process what they see, but it’s something to think about next time Spot is staring into your soul. After all, the eye is the window to the soul, as they say. 

Dogs Hear Emotion in Our Voice

Not only can dogs gather information about our emotional state from our faces, but they can also decipher our mood from our sounds. 

A study by the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Bari Aldo Moro “found that dogs can distinguish the positive sound of laughing from the negative sound of crying, and that negative sounds upset and arouse dogs more than positive ones”, reports the American Kennel Club

Other studies support these foundings and have even proven that like humans, dogs have a specific region of neurons in their brain that is sensitive to not just speech, but actually voice tones.

Do Dogs Know How We Feel?

While there’s much left to explore in the science of how dogs empathize with humans, and many details remain unknown, it’s at least nice to know that your dog does, in fact, understand you, at least on some level. 

In fact, you likely have lots of stories to prove that your dog not only knows but also cares when you’re happy or sad. Share a story with us in the comments section about a time you were convinced that your dog gets you. 

As your dog’s best friend, you can probably read his emotions too. That wagging tail and licking tongue let you know when he’s super happy. Why not give him another reason to be happy by scheduling him a doggy spa day at Pet Ponderosa Resort and Spa? Here at Pet Ponderosa, we offer luxury pet care, without the luxury price.

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