Our Stress, Depression, Joy…Can Dogs Tell?

Can Dogs Tell When we Are Stressed, Depressed or Happy?

After a hard day at work, you come home and find that your dog had quite a day himself – at your expense. He took a vacation from his potty training, made mincemeat of your shoes and slobbered all over that blanket your grandmother knitted for you. Do dogs know when are are upset? Can they sense our emotion?

You get angry and your dog gives you the classic hangdog, guilty look. He knows you’re mad. So does that mean your dog can sense your emotions? The answer is not as clear. Your reaction made it clear you – the pack leader – are upset, and your dog is desperate to appease you (he probably doesn’t know or care why you’re angry).

But what if you’re stressed or sad about something else, not involving your dog? He may sense something is wrong, but again, may not know why.

Examples of Dogs Sensing Our Emotions

Examples of dogs seemingly picking up on our emotions are endless but still the scientific proof is not there. The case against animals having the ability to glean our mood and mindset is based on lack of evidence to the effect that it happens rather than conclusive evidence to the contrary.

From an evolutionary point of view, it would be very strange if dogs did not have the ability to sense mood and that it suddenly occurred for the first and only time in the human animal. It would also not make sense to have a pack animal like a dog not realize when he was getting into trouble with another dog or when his behavior was having the desired effect. If dogs feel what we feel, then they would be happy when we’re happy, sad when we’re sad, and on the lookout (or hiding) when we’re angry. All of the above appears to hold true.