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Do Dogs Feel Gratitude?

grateful for dogs gratitude Nov 27, 2019

Thankful For Dogs

I think most of us who live with dogs would agree that they give us lots of reasons to be grateful every day for their presence and companionship.

However, does gratitude go both ways?  

Some dog owners are convinced that their dogs owe them appreciation in return for the comfortable life they provide for their pets.  So these folks apparently believe that dogs do feel gratitude.  Right?

Can we know for certain what a dog is thinking?  Probably not. But there's one thing we do know for sure - dogs think like dogs.  Dogs don't think like people. 

Gratitude is that feeling you get about a personal experience that makes you want to do something kind in return.  Thank someone for a favor. Write a thank-you note for a gift. Reciprocate an act of kindness.

But gratitude can also be more inclusive.  You are thankful for your health, your family, your friends.  Sometimes you appreciate the little things - a sunrise, not getting stuck in traffic, finding a ten-dollar bill you forgot you had.

Do Dogs Feel Gratitude?

So, if dogs feel gratitude, then what are they thankful for?  I can't read their minds, but it seems that dogs are always ready to express their happiness when they receive enrichment from their environment.

For example...

Dogs are enriched when we give them attention and engage them in energetic play, interactive learning, or quiet relaxation.

Depending on their personalities, dogs are happy when they have work to do, especially work that aligns with their breed characteristics.

Predictability makes dogs feel safe and confident. They need to trust that every time they approach you, the outcome will be pleasant and welcoming.

If dogs felt gratitude, then attention, work, and trust would be among the enrichments they appreciate receiving from you.  Their wagging tails and happy expressions might look like the canine version of a thank-you note.  But we can't assume.

A Gift From Your Dog

Whether you believe dogs express gratitude or that they are simply joyful within the moment, the mental, emotional, and physical impact of dogs on people is clearly established.  Dogs make us happier, calmer, and kinder.  Dogs lift our spirits and inspire us to live up to their devotion.  People with dogs live longer.

And that's a gift we can all be grateful for!

PS - Just in case you still haven't picked up your Complete Guide to Fall & Winter Holiday Safety for Dogs, here's where you can get it for free:

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