What Our Dogs Really Think About
By Rebecca Rodriguez - December 13, 2021

Dog’s are really man’s best friend, but have you ever wondered what’s really going on inside their heads? It’s interesting to stare into a dog’s eyes and feel a deep connection, but have no idea what he or she is thinking about. Sometimes it would be nice to know if our pups can laugh on the inside, or if they remember their lives as a puppy. Or perhaps you’re wondering whether your dog can be anxious about the future or whether they truly love you. A dog’s mind is filled with millions of neurons going off, passing chemicals from one to the next, and coming up with thoughts. Similar to human toddlers, dogs have the basic emotions of fear, anger, disgust,m excitement, contentment, distress, and love.

Getty Images/DigitalVision/LWA

Dr. Brian Hare, an evolutionary anthropologist and author of The Genius of Dogs says that dogs do in fact respond positively to humans’ positive emotions, such as smiling and laughter. Can dogs laugh themselves or make other dogs laugh? Dogs can sound as if they are laughing when they start panting, and the reason for that is because they actually are laughing. If you break down the pant with a sonograph and play the frequencies to other dogs, it lowers stress and produces more tail wagging, playful faces, and more social behavior. Along with laughing, dogs also have a facial expression that shows pleasure or contentment, which dog owners will be able to recognize in their pup. But some breeds just have faces that appear to be smiling. Behaviorist Rob Alleyne says, “Generally, dogs with broad faces – staffies, rottweilers – look like they’re grinning. The same expression on a German shepherd will look like it’s curling its lips back.”

One of the most common questions about our furry friends is whether they really love us or not? Dr. Hare explains, “You are definitely more than a food dispenser. Parents and their babies have an oxytocin loop, where they can make each other feel good just by staring into each others’ eyes. Somehow, dogs have inserted themselves into this loop, so that when dogs and owners stare at each other, it increases the oxytocin in both the dog and the owner.” Additionally, when it comes to empathy, the way this is measured in dogs is yawning. Dogs are very simple creatures, and all they really crave is somewhere to live, something to do, someone to love, and something to long for. Maybe we won’t be able to get into the deepest parts of their brains, but we enjoy their company regardless.