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Canine emotions as seen through human social cognition.

By Miiamaaria V. Kujala

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It is not possible to demonstrate that dogs (Canis familiaris) feel emotions, but the same is true for all other species, including our own. The issue must therefore be approached indirectly, using premises similar to those used with humans. Recent methodological advances in canine research reveal what dogs experience and what they derive from the emotions perceptible in others. Dogs attend to social cues, they respond appropriately to the valence of human and dog facial expressions and vocalizations of emotion, and their limbic reward regions respond to the odor of their caretakers. They behave differently according to the emotional situation, show emotionally driven expectations, have affective disorders, and exhibit some subcomponents of empathy. The canine brain includes a relatively large prefrontal cortex, and like primates, dogs have a brain area specialized for face perception. Dogs have many degrees of emotion, but the full extent of dog emotions remains unknown. Humans are a socially minded species; we readily impute mind and emotion to others, even to vegetables or rocks. Hence the experimental results need to be analyzed carefully, so the emotional lives of dogs are accurately estimated.


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2017
Publication Title Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling
Volume 14
Issue 2
Pages 1-34
ISBN/ISSN 2377-7478
Publisher The Humane Society
Location of Publication Washington, D.C.
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Comparisons
  3. Dogs
  4. Domestic animals
  5. Emotions
  6. Mammals
  7. Neurosciences
  8. Psychiatry and psychology
  9. social cognition