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Dogs and Human Emotions

Here is an article that my vet shared with me that I thought I would pass along:

In a study put out by Friederike Range and colleagues at the University of Vienna in Austria and Paul Morris at the University of Portsmouth, they suggest dogs have a complex range of simple unpleasant emotions such as jealousy and pride, giving them a sense of fairness that has never been discovered before.

 One should never mix their own emotions into a scientific study. Humans would love to believe their little balls of fur are also human, however they are not and never will be. It is studies like this one which can be very damaging, as they may make owners confuse dominance with emotion. Yes, the other dogs had a reaction when another dog got the food, when the new baby arrived, or when they were ignored, but the “WHY” is the question.

While dogs do possess emotions, they are not as complex as a human’s.  Dogs do, however, feel the emotions coming from humans. They feel our emotions as energy radiating from our bodies. The dog knows if you are sad, nervous, stressed, happy, calm, strong-minded, confident, passive, anxious, hyper, meek, etc. However, what we all need to understand is, a dog does not read negative energy coming from a human in the true meaning of the emotion. The dog simply reads negative energy as weakness and reacts accordingly. It is a natural instinct for a dog to have an order in their pack. When we humans live with dogs, we become their pack. The entire pack cooperates under a single leader. Lines are clearly defined and rules are set. Because a dog communicates displeasure with growling and eventually biting, all other humans MUST be higher up in the order than the dog; the humans must be the ones making the decisions, not the dogs. That is the only way your relationship with your dog can be a complete success.

Let’s look at the “why.” There can be many reasons for each of the following issues.

The New Baby

Why does a dog sometimes begin to act differently when a baby comes? This happens for varying reasons, depending on how badly the owners misinterpret their dog’s actions. The dog may claim the baby, the dog may be confused about his place and he may sense energy from the owners that he never felt before that confuses him. The baby is a new pack member and the owners’ emotions change. The dog senses this and there are varying things that can affect his reactions: emotional, nervous or stressed parents, sensing jealousy from a human sibling, not accepting the baby into the pack, thinking he is higher up in the pack, not sure where his new place is in the pack, or owners sending the wrong or mixed signals to the dog. Things are different and the dog needs to be secure in his pack and see himself as lower than the baby. He needs to know the new rules regarding the baby from the minute the baby comes home. Problems can and will arise when the owners fail to communicate the dog’s place among the new member. If humans become emotionally upset when the dog goes near the baby or near items which smell like the baby instead of calmly but firmly claiming space around the baby/items, communicating that the baby as alpha over the dog, the dog is going to react in ways he has never done before. This is not the same as human jealousy; it is a reaction to a new pack member and the wrong signals coming from the humans within the pack.

Other Dogs

Another claim of the study suggests that dogs hate to see their owners being affectionate to other dogs. In reality, dogs do not possess the emotions of “hate” or “jealousy”; this is the dog showing his dominance. The dog owns the human and does not want the other dog near their property. He may not want to allow another pack member in. One of the two dogs may sense instability in the other dog, or unstable emotions coming from the humans around them, which can cause a fight between the dogs. An imbalance in the other dog or humans around them will cause them to react, but not hate. A submissive dog with stable beings around him will share in the excitement of another dog, calmly say hello by smelling, or ignore the other dog altogether.


The study also suggests dogs are able to interpret fairness, as when one dog decides things are “not fair” and reacts by refusing to obey or getting emotionally upset. Dogs were asked to perform a trick and the dog’s enthusiasm was lowered when they saw other dogs being rewarded with food but receiving nothing for themselves. Some of the dogs even turned their heads, refusing to look at the human or other dog. So why is this?

A dog that is doing a trick without food and notices someone else doing the trick using food with another dog in sight or smell range is suddenly distracted. He wants to eat the food too and he loses interest in the trick. It’s a distraction and a learned behavior that he could be getting food for his action. It is also very possible the person doing the experiment sent off a different emotion (energy) to the dog during different parts of the experiment. The dog would sense this and react accordingly.

The dogs that turned away, refusing to look were not upset nor were they trying to get even in any way. They were, in fact, submitting to the other dog and/or humans. They were communicating their respect, as the leader eats first, and the others wait until the leader is finished. Eye contact is a challenge. Therefore, a dog who turns his head refusing to make eye contact with you is telling you he is allowing you to be his leader. This misinterpretation of the dog’s reaction is actually a very common and damaging one. When humans see their dogs turn away from them, refusing eye contact, the humans attach their own emotions to it and think the dog is upset or mad. They go over to the dog in attempt to “make up,” offering sympathy and affection. The dog suddenly feels this human is weak and instinctually believes he needs to be stronger in order to “save the pack.” He becomes alpha whether he wants the job or not because, in his mind, the pack needs a strong leader in order to survive.

Geting even for being ignored

It was also suggested that dogs that were ignored gave their paws much less often, doing so in only 13 out of 30 trials, and some showed more stress, such as licking or scratching themselves.

Now for the why—and this one seems a bit silly. Do we humans think the dogs enjoyed giving their paw over and over again? They do it for the reward of food or praise. No reward and the dog will not be motivated. But he’s not mad or jealous and he is not upset because things are unfair. Sure the dog wants the other dog’s food, but he’s not having a jealous fit. He’s reacting. Give praise and he reacts to get more praise. Show food and he wants to eat it. He’s just not as interested in the guy without the food. As far as the stress…if I were a dog I would be stressed too if I was with humans who were sending confusing vibes my way.

 This study is actually really sad and damaging to dogs that come into contact with people who may believe what it says. We are not doing our fellow canine animals a favor by attaching our human emotions to them, confusing dominance and submission with human emotion. If we as humans do not take the time to learn a dog’s instincts we will continue to see more and more unwanted dogs in shelters.

The number one cause of death for dogs today is euthanasia. A dog’s temperament is a direct reflection of his owner’s ability to understand him and give him what he instinctually needs. There are no bad dogs. Don’t let your dog down!

Written by Sharon Maguire © Dog Breed Info Center ® All Rights Reserved

Weekly Trick – Eating Treats From Chopsticks (Cats)

This is something I saw on youtube and am teaching Isis how to do this.  She pretty much has it down, but I sometimes have to remind her how to do it.  It’s not difficult and I will explain, along with posting a link to one of the cutest cat eating from chopsticks videos ever!

This is fairly easy to teach your cat.  What you need are wooden chopsticks, patience and time, and some of your cats favorite treats.  I actually use pork because Isis would probably do back flips in order to get some pork.

The first step I did was make sure that Isis hadn’t eaten anytime before doing this trick.  I cut up the pork into small treat size pieces.

For the first day, all I would do is hold out the pork and have Isis take it from my fingers at her eye level.  The next few days, I stood up and would raise the treat up a bit higher each time, until she was standing on her hind legs and taking the treat easily from my fingers (I would make sure that there was a 90% success rate.  That is, she would take it from my fingers at least 9 times out of 10). All the while doing this, I would say the command word “pork”, so that she would associate that word with what she was doing.

On the fifth day, I ended up putting a piece of pork into the chopsticks.  I held the chopsticks up to the level where she would be standing on her hind legs and said my command word “pork”.  She stood on her hind legs and took the pork from between the chopsticks.

As promised, here is the trick in action.  This is such a cute, smart cat!

Weekly Trick – Catch The Ball In Your Paws (For Dogs)

This little Beagle in the video is pretty talented and looks very sweet.

There aren’t any steps to training your dog how to do this trick but I would probably go about it in this way:

1. FIrst make sure your dog knows the command “sit”.

2. Next, start to teach the dog the command “up” so that they can stand on their hind legs and so that they can put their paws up as well.

3. Now incorporate the ball and start to throw the ball gently to your dog, aiming more for the paws so that they can catch it.

4. I would start using a word like “catch” or “hold” so that they associate that with catching the ball between their paws.

5. Then keep on working on that until the dog can catch the ball and hold it for a second or two.  Also the dog will most likely when trying to catch it, the ball will probably bounce back to you, so in essence, they are learning how to play and toss the ball back and forth and learn the “Catch” trick as well, so it’s a two for one!

Always remember to have treats handy, and make sure you have time and patience to teach this trick.  Do not try to teach it for more than 5-10 minutes at a time, as your dog’s attention span is not that long.

Here is the video to help you teach this trick to your dog.  Have fun!


Weekly Trick – Arwen The Cat, Clicker Training Tricks

This cat is so sweet.  She was adopted and had aggression issues, but her new pet parent worked with her and now sweet, fluffy Arwen is performing tricks and actually enjoys doing them!

I have made posts on clicker training and cats before, but I wanted to add another one as a refresher.

You can teach your cat many tricks that dogs learn and even different ones than dogs learn.  The trick (pun intended) is that cats respond differently than dogs.  More patience and doing tricks before meal times usually get your cat interested in doing what you want them to do.

Some cats are afraid of clickers, so sometimes just making the clicking sound with your mouth is sufficient.

Without further ado, here is the video of Arwen performing tricks with her pet parent doing clicker sounds with her mouth and treats for the smart cat!



Dogs Learning “Place”

This is a process where you teach your dog where to sit, stay and lay down, thus making this the dog’s own “place.”

This will take patience and time as it can be difficult for a dog to learn and master this skill.  Good treats will come in handy.

A dog bed or dog mat works best, but if you just have a blanket or a towel, those can work in a pinch.

The command word will be “place”.

Showing your dog the new bed/mat/blanket or towel and saying the word place can help in the beginning.

Your dog must be good on a leash and must have mastered the commands “down” and “stay”.   If these are just newly learned by your dog, stick with those for a while, you don’t want to confuse your dog with teaching them something else like “place”.  It may make what you did train them to do, something that they unlearn and you don’t want that.

If you want to learn more about how to teach your dog “place”, here is the article that will help you.



Weekly Trick – Tandem Bike Ride

Now I know that this trick is not something that most people will ever teach their dog, but I found the video and the dog, amazing.

The dog gets on the back of the tandem bike and starts to pedal along with his human parent.  It is amazing that a dog can do something this absolutely brilliant!

If I were to try to teach this trick, I would start with a command word like “bike” or “on” and then “pedal”.  Lots of treats would be involved, and knowing Sasha, a lot of begging and pleading and possibly tears (on my part) would be involved to get her to even attempt this trick.

My point in posting this video (it is the 7th video down in the playlist if it does not start to play automatically), is that dogs are highly intelligent and can learn to do just about anything with time and patience.  I love the idea of this trick and if someone has taught their dog how to do this, I would love to know how you went about it.


Weekly Trick – Beg

Here is a fairly easy trick that your dog should enjoy doing not only for treats, but when friends come over.  Surely they will like to show off for your friends how smart they are!

You want to have some treats, which you should give in moderation.  Also time and patience.  Do tricks in short sessions, as your dog’s attention span isn’t long.  Have a target stick to make it easier for your dog to know what you want.

First you want to get them to move upward and any upward movement should be met with a treat.

Keep moving the treat up higher and higher as your dog learns to move upward.

Then, once you have reached the desired height,  you will want to hold the position for a short amount of time.

Then add the verbal cue “beg”.

After a while, once you think your dog understands what you are looking for,  you can stop using the target stick.

Then you will want to just use the verbal cue “beg”.

Now your dog should be able to stand up and beg.

You may be able to teach your dog to go even more advanced and clap their paws together in a begging motion.  That will take time and your own ideas as to how to get your dog to perform this.  I have been trying to work with Sasha to teach her to clap her paws together while in the beg position, she is learning slowly.

Here is a video to teach the trick to your dog.

Weekly Trick – Go To Bed

Your dog can learn this trick with a little patience and a lot of praise!

You will need a dog bed, a leash and treats (in moderation).

First, walk over to your dog’s bed and say “go to bed” in a calming tone.  Have a treat handy so that they can see it.  Once the dog walks over to the bed tell them to lie down in a calming tone.  You can use a leash here or not, to get them to focus on learning this trick.

It may take a while for your dog to go over to the bed and actually lie down, practice this trick in short intervals, no longer than about 5-10 minutes.

Once your dog learns the trick, you can take off the leash if you have used one, and they should no longer need the treat.

Here is a video of the trick.  It is NOT ME in the video.

Have a great weekend!

Weekly Trick – Hudson Performs Tricks!

I thought I would put something different for my weekly trick post.

This is a video of Hudson, the Burnese Mountain Dog performing tricks for her human Mom.

I just thought I would add this one to show everyone how dogs can do tricks in succession once they have mastered the trick.

I also just love this breed of dog.  So expressive, pretty and large (I am a large(r) dog breed lover), but I love all dogs as well.

Here is the video.  You can teach your dog these tricks easily.  You don’t have to follow any directions, sometimes you just have to do what will work for your dog.  Remember to have patience and use some treats for motivation in moderation.  I hope you enjoy!

Recipe Friday – Liver Treats

Your dog will love these treats!  Remember to feed in moderation.  Can be used when teaching new tricks.


  • 1 lb. chicken liver
  •  1 cup graham cracker crumbs (gluten free if your dog is allergic to gluten)
  •   3 tablespoons molasses or honey (organic is best, gluten free molasses works best)
  •   ¼ cup parsley



Place all ingredients in the bowl of food processor. Process until smooth.

Pour into a microwaveable container, approximately 8″ square or round.

Microwave on high until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This takes 7 minutes in my microwave, but your mileage may vary.

When cooked, turn out of pan immediately, allow the bottom to dry since it will be damp from condensation, and cut into squares while still warm.

Spread bits on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake at 200° for 1.5 hours.

Freeze or refrigerate.