Dogs definitely have thoughts and feelings and can experience emotions just the same as humans can, just slightly different.
While it is not actually possible to see if dogs can and do have feelings, it is very possible to try and understand their behaviour associated with their emotions.
Trying to train a puppy is a complex task as it is trying to teach a toddler something. Dogs work on a very “hear and now” basis. Enforcement or punishment should be dished out immediately so that they will learn to associate the reaction of the owner to their previous behaviour.
One example of this can be feeding time: if you feed your dog at the same time every day, at the same place and in much the same way, he will anticipate this happening. He will be very happy about the food being rewarded, but will also understand the surrounding behaviour and how things will pan out.
Dogs are emotional and intelligent creatures. They don’t communicate the same way as humans, nor respond in the same way. But if you take the time and just focus on their body language, a whole new world will be opening up for you to communicate with your beloved pet. You will get an insight into what your dog is thinking as well as what he is trying to tell you.
Dogs can communicate a whole array of thoughts and feelings, e.g.:
A wealth of people will tell you that if a dog does not trust someone, you should do the same. Dogs have a keen sense of trust and can’t be fooled easily. If they are not comfortable with a person or a situation, they will get your attention to it.
Some dog species – the hounds specifically, have a superb sense of smell. Their nose strength is leaps and bounds ahead of humans and they will be able to smell “trouble” a mile away. Service dogs are used a lot for this purpose to “find” trapped humans or rescue the lost. Communication on this front is done via the nose and communicated via excited bodily behaviour.
Currently, science is not at such an advanced stage that we are able to understand and decipher what our dogs are thinking or trying to say – we might even never know.
But what we do know is that we can work with what information we have available. Take time to understand your dog, really listen to his body language and you will communicate on a completely different level.
Of all the dog owners in the world as well as the dogs around, I think service dogs and their handlers / owners are the best at knowing what their companions are thinking. Both of them are so wonderfully in tune with each other. The slightest movement or emotion sparks up a range of actions.
This relationship and symbiotic form of communication is based purely on trust – where each literally trusts the other with their lives.