Happiness in Animals?

Callie & Jenny

Of course! It seems like a simple question, but as is often the case, our big, complicated brains allow us to add nuance to the answer. I've gone on record as arguing that yes indeed, mammals like dogs and horses can be happy, how could they not be? Feeling good is a way for the body to tell the brain (as if they were separate, forgive me for this simplistic duality) that it is in an environment that is safe and healthy. The neuro-hormones associated with happiness, like dopamine and oxytocin are shared by all mammals, and expressive mammals like dogs have the same facial expressions as we do when we are happy ourselves. I write about this in the book For the Love of a Dog and show examples in the DVD of the same name. However, I was reminded that the question has more depth than "can a Read More

Results: Survey on Emotions in Animals

sheep backlit fall 2011

THANKS to you all for contributing to the survey! I'll give you the results of the blog survey first and then compare them on the right with a survey done at the Madison Seminar (thanks!) and with research done by Morris et. al. in 2008 (Cognition & Emotion 22(1), 3-20). First, emotions and dogs (of course!) CAN DOGS EXPERIENCE THE FOLLOWING EMOTIONS? EMOTION   BLOG YES                SEMINAR YES                      MORRIS 2008 YES FEAR                   100%                               100%                                       93% JOY                       100%                              99.5%                                      99% ANGER                85.7%                             95.1%                                       65% DISGUST            Read More

What Emotions Do You Share with Your Dog?

Tootsie to snow lst 2011

Surely you'd agree that both you and your dog can be frightened, but what about feeling jealous? Guilty? Ashamed? Ah, now it gets trickier, doesn't it? Emotions like jealousy and guilt are called "secondary" emotions, and many biologists, psychologists and philosophers believe that non-human animals can't experience them. The argument is that they can't be experienced without a relatively high level of cognition, particularly the ability to be self aware and knowledgeable about the mental state of others. I'll talk in the next post about research related to whether dogs feel guilt or jealousy, but for now, I'd like to replicate another piece of research that asked people what emotions they think animals experience. [If you came to the Madison Seminar, no fair answering after you saw the Read More