Home » What Do Dogs Think About – Scientific and Dogs’ Owners Perspective

What Do Dogs Think About – Scientific and Dogs’ Owners Perspective

Well, an interesting question. What is more, dogs are really able to think, memorize, experience emotions, form associations, and remember their previous experience. In this article, we have gathered the results of recent research to answer the questions can dogs think, how dogs think, and what are dogs thinking about. 

Do Dogs Have a Brain? 

Of course, and certainly, the brain is the main processor of any organism that is responsible for its vital functions. Of course, dogs also have a brain, and quite developed. And we will tell you even more – the dog’s thinking is not much different from human thinking. The only difference is that the brain connections in the human body are more advanced and diverse.

If we compare the dog’s brain with the human brain, then the dog will be at the level of a child about three to five years old. So, do dogs think like humans? They think the level of a living being who has certain ideas about the world, about his family, about other people, and about love.

How Do Dogs Brains Work

The first scientist who began research on the work of the canine brain was the Russian academician Pavlov. His theory was based solely on reflexes. In short, this theory is based on the fact that a certain external stimulus provokes a response in a dog, for example, the smell of food provokes the gastric secretion.

However, at the moment, science has progressed much further. Modern studies of the dog’s brain, as well as how do dogs think, are based on the fact that each external stimulus (for example, when the owner pronounces the dog’s name or command) causes not only a response action but also a response emotion. At that moment when the dog joyfully runs to the owner, wagging its tail, this is an emotion supported by active action.

Moreover, each external stimulus also causes association, in addition to response action and emotion. For example, the sound of an opening door may be associated with the arrival of the owner. Thus, dogs react to external stimuli just like people do, and in the same way they are able to experience emotions and form associations. By the way, this associative approach is the basis of dog training and forms a command-performance-treat relationship.

In addition, Swedish dog handler Anders Hallgren monitored the behavior of dogs and concluded that dogs have a so-called social brain, which by the way is similar for dogs and humans. The social brain is that part of the brain that is responsible for socialization and interaction. He watched the guard dogs that were in separate enclosures and could not communicate with other dogs or with people and came to the conclusion that long isolation leads to the fact that the dog begins to perform tasks worse.

What Do Dogs Think About

So what does a dog think about? Can a dog thinking be compared to a human one? What do dogs think about humans? Below you will find the results of the recent studies.

Can dogs really think?

There is a widespread belief that animals are not capable of a thought process. Many people believe that pets are guided only by natural instincts. But how can you explain those incredible things when a dog learns difficult things or understands the owner even without words?

Scientists from the Center of Bio-medical Research in Michigan under the direction of Dr. Jill Sackman, PhD in biology, have decided to find this out once and for all and give the final verdict on this matter. They have conducted extensive research on this topic. And as a result, they have found out that dogs are capable of thinking! They have an intelligence that can be compared to that of a 3-5-year-old child.

Therefore, the owners can be sure that their dog is a true friend and individual personality, and not just a creature that lives only by instincts.

What Do Dogs Think of Humans

Of course, a dog has a certain way of thinking, but it would not be entirely right to ask what does my dog think about other humans. Here, a lot will depend on what kind of relationship you are with certain people and what intentions these people have in relation to you.

For example, most well-bred dogs treat the children of their owners favorably and will love and protect them as well as the owner. Of course, there are exceptions related to the characteristics of the breed. Some dogs are too jealous to allow you to love someone else.

In addition, dogs are able to understand body language and intonation. If the body language or the voice of speech indicates that someone is threatening the owner, then the dog will automatically come to your defense. As for other people, a well-bred dog remains indifferent and does not react at all to people walking past you on the street, for example.

By the way, there is an opinion that dogs have extremely developed intuition, are able to distinguish a bad person from a good one, and they are also able to see spirits. But perhaps more recent is a cat’s prerogative.

Do Dogs Think They Are Humans?

No. The dog does not think that it is a human, because the place of a human is already taken. By the way, the answer to the question of do dogs think we are dogs is similarly negative, because dogs do not smell like humans. But what do dogs think about themselves?

Researchers also decided to ask what is your dog thinking aboiut itself and began to experiment with mirrors and self-identification. However, the dogs perceived the object in the mirror as one more dog but not themselves.

The thing is that dogs perceive the world with the help of smells. The only way a dog identifies himself is by smell. Yes, you guessed it right – this is the smell of its own and others’ stool.

What Does My Dog Think of Me

In fact, science has not yet given a clear answer to this question. However, scientists at Emory University have found how dogs react to their owner’s smell. They found that when the dog hears the smell of its owner, the so-called “reward center” begins to work. Moreover, according to the results of the experiment, it was found that the dog perceives its owner with the same lust as food.

And by the way, another experiment also proved that most dogs would choose the owner’s praise instead of food. This proves that the owner is central to the dog world. So what does my dog think about me? Your dog thinks you are the best world’s creature worth of everlasting and unconditional love. 

Moreover, dogs rely on the owner’s love and protection just like children do. A frightened dog will always run to the owner, while a cat or horse, for example, will run away. And dogs are the only creatures who seek to establish eye contact.

What Language Do Dogs Think in

In fact, the dog does not care what language to think in and what language to understand. She can think in any language because for a dog any language is a set of emotionally colored sounds. That is, initially the dog does not care whether its owner speaks English or Hindi, but in the process of training the dog remembers sets of sounds, as well as everything that is associated with them.

For example, if you try to give a command in English to a dog that was raised in China, this is unlikely to be successful. However, if you switch to body language, call the dog with a gesture or a treat, sit down at its level, and broadcast positive emotions, then the interaction will work out. Even despite the language barrier in a linguistic sense.

Do Dogs Worry About Their Owners

Of course, dogs worry about their owners. Dogs are able to capture our emotional background and recognize our emotions.

Have you ever noticed that if you are overwhelmed with intense joy, your dog also begins to have fun? Have you noticed that if you feel bad and sad, the dog does everything to support you? This is how the emotional connection between a dog and a person works.

Moreover, dogs are capable of unconditional and even sacrificial love. That is why dogs will protect the owner at the time of danger, even at the cost of their own lives. At the moment of danger for the owner, the dog’s brain processes a whole chain of connections – an external source of danger, the fear of losing the beloved owner, and the decision to save him at all costs.

From scientific point of view, this reaction is a combination of feeling and reason. These two functions of the brain are physically connected and determine each other. Therefore, skepticism about thinking of you dog, the presence of reason, and emotions in animals is eliminated automatically: without one there is no other. These are facts proven by neuroscience.

Do Dogs Remember What Happened to Them? 

Fortunately, and sometimes, unfortunately, dogs remember what happened to them earlier. Dogs, in principle, have an excellent memory and are capable students if you give them enough strength and time. In addition, dogs remember past events, remember the faces of people whom they love and remember their traumatic experience. Just like people.

For example, you most likely noticed that as soon as you say the command “Home”, the dog immediately chooses the right direction to return home (of course, if you followed a familiar route). Guide dogs work in the same way, showing blind owners the right path and protecting them from dangers. Is this evidence that dogs have an extremely developed brain and there is no reason ask do dogs have thoughts?

And also, dogs remember the previous traumatic experience and all their emotions at that moment. Especially if it was a regular beating and betrayal by the owner. In the brain, the injury looks like a scar – a thick ball of stress-injured neurons. Injured neurons extend to other areas of the brain, disrupting the lives of healthy neurons associated with them. Thus, the trauma creates a whole complex of connections that keeps the memory of it.

This ball of bonds forms defensive reactions – aggression, unforeseen mood swings, and unpredictable changes in behavior. Curing a dog with psychological trauma is just as difficult as curing a person with a traumatic past. That is why it is so difficult to work with dogs from shelters and rescue centers.

Some more facts on dog psychology

They have no sense of guilt

But you can say that you have seen your pet ”guilty” many times. After he had done something “bad” and noticed that the owner is angry with this act, he begins to show with all his appearance that he is “ashamed”. Pressed ears and tail, turned head and so sad eyes! How not to believe?

But in this way, a dog just ”says” to you: ”Don’t be angry with me!”, “Look how small and defenseless I am!”. With such behavior, he tries to calm you down and prevent conflict. But he doesn’t realize that he had done something bad.

So, for a pet to know what is appropriate and what is not you should teach him. Punishments are not effective!

They can identify and remember facial features

Though the main way of world perception is sense of smell, dogs also pay attention to the facial features of people surrounding them.

They are masters of identifying humans emotions

These animals use a wide range of ways to do this.

First of all, they are sensitive to people’s mimics. So, your dog can literally read your mood from your face.

Also, they identify the emotional inflection of your speech. And it provokes strong emotional reactions in them. For example, pleasure centers are activated when you praise a pet. And an aggressive tone may provoke fear or defensive aggression.

And finally, these animals have such a sensitive smell that they feel the burst of certain hormones. For example, the smell of adrenaline shows a dog that you are afraid.

They can make friends

It has long been noted that dogs, unlike most other animals, are capable of making friends. Other animals, even wild ones, also often spend time together with each other. But they do it because it’s easier to survive in a pack than alone.

Unlike them, dogs can spend time with other representatives of their species without any benefit — simply because it gives them positive emotions. They become attached to their friends, can share their toys with them, miss them if they have not seen each other for a long time, remember the approximate walking schedule and look for their friends in the park at the right time, etc.

They have dualistic thinking

This means that they only understand the clear yes or no. That is, they don’t understand how it is possible that today something is allowed and tomorrow the same thing is restricted. For example, if today you allow the dog to sleep on the couch, and tomorrow you kick it out of there, he will sincerely not understand why and, naturally, will not want to leave. Therefore, if you want your pet to be well-mannered, be clear about what is allowed and what is not regardless of your mood, without exceptions and indulgences.

Some of their thought processes are similar to those of humans

When you promise a yummy to your dog, the same centers are activated in his brain as in humans when they anticipate profit.

Also, people and dogs react similarly to their friends expressing positive emotions. The centers of pleasure are activated both in humans and dogs when they are having fun together. This is one of the reasons why strong emotional connections are formed between pets and owners.

Besides, dogs like music. It can relax them. So, if your pet listens to songs together with you, don’t think that a pet just copies your behavior thoughtlessly.

Now that you know more about your pet psychology it will be easier for you to find the common ground and become best friends!


As you can see, the dog’s brain, like the human brain, has not yet been fully explored. Most likely, soon the science will find even more accurate answers to the questions what do dogs think about all day or what is my dog thinking about the presidential election or any other staff. So far we know only one thing for sure – the love between you and the dog exists at the level of neural connections, or even at the level of something more spiritual than science.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x