Often we find ourselves relating to our dogs. They have different likes, dislikes, and defined personalities. But are dogs capable of hate? Sure, we can see them feel fear of an object or defense against a stranger. But are they able to feel hate for something or someone? That is what we aim to answers and explain today.
Hate is not simply an emotion but a very strong feeling that can lead to severe anxiety and dangerous aggression. Therefore, understanding hate and dogs is important for more than interest, but safety. If your dog hates a certain family member, we almost guarantee that a very severe reaction will take place if they see them. Whether that be an attack, or a desperate attempt to flee. By understanding emotions, we can predict reactions and try to avoid or minimize them. Whether this is through prevention of interaction or gradual introductions and training. So let’s dive in and answer the question.
What Does It Mean To Hate?
The understanding of humans and hate compared to dogs and hate can be defined very differently. When humans hate they often have much more personal experiences and emotions driving that feeling. When owners use the term ‘hate’ for dogs, it often relates to a high aggression/fear response to a specific object, person, place, or event. Unlike a person, who can show detest regardless of whether the object of hate is near or associated with where they are or what they are doing, dogs direct those emotions when they directly associate the object with what is around them.
It can be argued that saying a dog hates something is the personification of the animal. Instead of a reflective state where the individual consciously decides that they hate that certain thing due to experiences or opinions, we decide it to be so because of a dog’s behavior. However, behaviorists determine a dog’s opinions, feelings, and even individual traits from their reactions. So couldn’t it be a fair assessment to judge their aggression and fear as hatred? Not necessarily. With the term hatred often used to help describe extreme disgust, we can reflect that dogs’ thought processes have not yet had firm evidence to display those emotions.
Many dogs can dislike certain things with more severity than others. Aggression and fear can also be signs of hatred and displayed around people, objects, and places. But do dogs go away and actively think about their negative feelings towards the target of suspected hatred? Furthermore, do they possess the control that humans do around targets of hatred? For example, humans may hate a colleague or relative but be able to have a conversation with them for the convenience of the situation. Therefore, fear and aggression are not always synonymous with hate when we use the term. So is it really applicable to dogs and are they really capable of hating?
Are Dogs Capable of Hate?
To answer the focus question of the article, behaviorists cannot confirm yet that dogs feel hate. It may be surprising with how much of our society’s focus and love is aimed at canines that we still have a lot to learn. These highly emotional and intelligent creatures require a lot of research. This needs to be with different breeds, ages, and types of dogs in order to have research with as little bias as possible. What we can conclude is that dogs can feel a range of emotions from happiness to sadness. All of these may have different levels as well.
Your dog may dislike something, or dislike it severely, but labeling that feeling with the term hate is something we cannot do as yet. As dogs cannot actively reflect on their feelings, we have not got evidence of this yet, and also more research needs to be conducted with individuals. It may not be that a dog hates something, but that they have been bred to have a certain reaction institutionally. Therefore, this unconscious reaction is not fueled by emotion and cannot be defined as hate. Dogs bred to have a higher level of dog aggression may be seen to ‘hate’ other dogs. When it is not hate, nor an emotional response for the individual, but an instinctual behavioral reaction because of selective breeding.
You can also perceive hate due to a fear response in your dog. Many owners will say that their dog hates the hoover. However, half of them will stand around the hoover when it is not turned on. And those that won’t are often just afraid of loud noises in general and not the hoover itself. Although hatred is argued to stem fear and ignorance in humans, dogs’ emotions are thought to be more simple currently. They associate, they remember, but their hate is more of an intense disliking that you can train away through proper socialization and patience.
Are Dogs Capable of Hatred – FAQs
When asking yourself ‘are dogs capable of hate?’, often many questions arise alongside this one. That is why we have created a FAQ section with all the relating questions that people have searched.
When a dog’s reaction or emotions are interfering with the quality of their life or yours, that’s when it’s time to make a change. Luckily, training and patience can help your dog reduce their aggression and fear responses. Use positive reinforcement with very gradual introductions to help your dog associate what they hate with a positive feeling. For example, if your dog hates a certain piece of furniture and refuses to walk by it, start off by giving them treats and attention near the furniture. Decrease the distance every few days until your dog is comfortable. Never rush a step and always be careful around aggressive dogs. If you have any concerns, contact a behaviorist.
If your dog is displaying aggression, fear, or any behaviors on the dog aggression ladder in general when this object or person is near, they probably dislike it/them. Looks for the whites of your dog’s eyes being exposed, they may leave the room, or it may just be that their ears go back. This is in more mild cases. In more severe cases however a dog could immediately try to attack it/them and this requires the immediate help of a professional behaviorist.
Never punish your dog for disliking something, instead, it’s about using positive reinforcement to create a positive association. Furthermore, punishments only create fear and a lack of trust between you and your dog and can actually worsen the problem. Use gradual socialization and introductions to new stimuli linked to positive reinforcement. Have patience and over time your dog will feel more comfortable around a past negative object or person.
Some of the most common objects or triggers for dogs include:
– loud noises
– new dogs
– being walked on the lead
All of these triggers can be minimized or eradicated through proper training, socialization, and positive reinforcement. These common disliked stimuli are common due to selective breeding as well as a lack of introductions and training. Some dogs have natural guarding instincts against new people and dogs, many dogs aren’t trained to walk on a leash young or eat their food without showing aggression. These are all common owner mistakes and we can work together to make things better for you and your pooch.
Dogs don’t really hate cats. We can simplify their aggression and chasing to cats activating hunting instincts as well as play in many dogs. Those that have their instincts ignited will chase and try to attack the cat. Those that want to play will try to do so with the fearful cat often replying with scratches in defense. Some dogs simply view them as a stranger on their property. Regardless, their feelings towards cats are not hate but natural responses.
Although we can interpret a dog’s aggression and fear as hatred, it is not as deep or defined as with humans. The behaviors are often ones we can help counteract and this can make you and your dog happier. So are dogs capable of hate? Not like we are. Allowing them to familiarize themself with new people, objects, and situations when they are young will help tremendously with this. Always use positive reinforcement to help build a good view of something. And when in doubt, contact a dog behaviorist.