Do dogs forgive? – Suluk 2023

هل الكلاب يغفر؟ - سلوك 2023

Some dogs have bad luck. Thousands of abused and abandoned puppies show up in shelters every day, and people are often amazed at the emotional and physical resilience of these amazing animals. But do dogs forgive people who have offended them? It is important to understand some of the basics about dogs, their emotions, and the ways in which they learn. Dogs are forgiving, but it may not be the same type of forgiveness that you might identify with within the human emotional spectrum.


What dogs feel

Dogs feel emotions, but their brains are less complex than humans. According to Discover magazine, dogs feel at the same level as a child, meaning they experience basic emotions such as fear, happiness, distress, and love. But they do not feel more complex, complex feelings rooted in memory and/or social relationships such as shame, guilt or pride. Because dogs do not harbor resentments or grudges, they cannot necessarily “forgive” in the truest sense of the word.

How do dogs think?

Dogs don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the past or the future. Most of what the dog thinks has to do with what is happening to the animal at the moment. While dogs can develop a sense of routine and will quickly detect patterns in your behavior, it is beyond the ability of dogs’ reasoning to predict when you will come home from work or think about the time you hit him with a newspaper. Most dog experiences only exist in the moment — dogs don’t spend a lot of time remembering.

Pattern recognition

What many owners mistake for complex feelings on the part of their dog is actually the manifestation of pattern recognition. For example, if your dog knocks a cup off the coffee table and immediately appears guilty, what you are seeing in the dog’s body language is not guilt. Instead, the dog reacts the way you normally would and predicts a punishment based on past incidents. Dogs learn all kinds of patterns. Your dachshund, for example, might come to associate your putting on a hat with time to go outside and play. If you don’t yell or punish a dog for a certain behavior, you probably won’t see “guilt” body language.

Find forgiveness

The way dogs feel and think ultimately helps them in the long run. A dog cannot “forgive” an abusive owner in the way humans might think of forgiveness, but a dog will also only associate that abusive behavior with conditions surrounds the abuser. This is why many abused animals in shelters are excited to meet new people and react with joy when interacting with humans—they don’t remember their previous owners’ abuse enough to assume that every human is abused. Some dogs can be emotionally traumatized, but in most cases bad experiences are forgotten and replaced with new, more positive patterns. Dogs forgive, but not as much as they forget.

From Todd Bowerman

Webb MD: Is your dog emotionally macho? Cesar Way: The Science of Canine Emotions: What’s Behind a Dog’s Emotions? Discover Magazine: What’s Your Dog Thinking?

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