Sunday, May 3, 2009

Does Your Shih Tzu Have Human-Like Emotions?

Animal behaviorists have conducted complex and probably expensive studies trying to find undeniable proof that dogs have emotions. Scientific evidence is great to have and studies should be well documented - but anyone that has a close relationship with a dog knows that 'yes' they do experience emotions.

Animals express themselves often in much the same way that humans do. You are sure to have seen your Shih Tzu tilt his/her head to the side or change facial expression or wag the tail or even tuck his/her tail. Theses things demonstrate a means of communication and emotions.

Dogs communicate with humans as well as with other animals. If you happen to own more than a single Shih Tzu I am sure you have noticed interactions between the animals. You probably know which dog is the alpha dog. And you probably have seen times that the pets were in playful moods and enjoyed each other's company and other times when they did not.

We can logically make some assumptions about what is going on in the mind of our Shih Tzu by the expressions and actions he/she displays. Just as humans communicate with body language - so do animals.

Most animal behaviorists start their research with the thought of what it would be like to be a dog. Skepticism is the initial drive which these men and women spark their research with. They wonder if dogs and other animals actually “feel” anything inside. As you can probably guess, since you cannot place an emotion under a microscope, most scientists dismiss the idea.

However, as time goes on, more and more people are becoming less skeptical about the idea of dogs and other animals having emotions. For example, there are scientific journals that are considered prestigious publications who have reported such findings as rats experiencing joy, mice that have empathy, and elephants which feel grief. Once again - our little Shih Tzu clearly demonstrate emotions when they show excitement at our arrival or at times that they feel threatened and need to be comforted.

Now the big question is, why? Why have emotions evolved in certain species as adaptation tools to their environment? The answer could be in the possibility that these emotions have evolved to become somewhat of a “social sticky” which glues the bond between animals and each other for a variety of social reasons.

We know that emotions allow animals to be flexible and adaptable to their behavior through a variety of venues. An interesting study has reported that mice are empathetic, yet they're also fun loving. Other reports show that iguanas seek pleasure, baboons become angry, and elephants - surprisingly enough - have flashbacks and post traumatic stress disorder. Documented research has also been done on fish as well as otters. In fact, it has been shown that otters show affection as well as grief at times that would be appropriate with humans.

Many researchers also concluded that animals which are living as companions to humans, especially dogs, can develop specific emotions due to our relationship with them. I'm sure that I don't have to tell you that dogs and humans share many common emotional traits. If you would like to learn more about your Shih Tzu I recommend Just Shih Tzu - you will receive information related to virtually every facet of Shih Tzu ownership.

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