Study Finds Dogs Don’t Trust Us When We’re Angry
Have you ever tried teaching your dog a new trick when you’re frustrated?
Probably didn’t go so well, did it?
If you suspect your dog doesn’t listen to you very well when you’re angry you’re right; and now there’s scientific proof to back it up.
Anger makes dogs trust us less. A new study found that dogs hesitate when taking cues from someone angry as opposed to someone happy or neutral.
Dogs Don’t Trust Us When We’re Angry
We’ve known for a long time that dogs are sensitive to our emotional cues, and we’ve seen that they use their own judgments to tell when we’re lying. But we still don’t really understand how much of an impact emotional cues have on their behaviors.
BYU professor Ross Flom wanted to know more about how dogs use our emotional cues, so he conducted a few experiments of his own. The study, published in Animal Cognition, found that dogs were less likely to trust people that were angry.
How the Study Was Performed
In the experiment volunteers were paired with a dog in an unfamiliar location and would point or gesture towards a hidden treat.
The gestures they gave were paired with positive or negative behaviors from the person pointing. During each phase the person would change their voice and demeanor to be happy, neutral, or angry.
Researchers found no difference in the ability of a dog to find hidden treats with the help of a happy or neutral volunteer. But the dogs did hesitate when it came to taking cues from the angry volunteers.
In the study positive cues didn’t improve the dogs’ response time compared to neutral cues, but the angry cues delayed it.
This research suggests that our emotional cues help determine how quickly dogs are willing to explore an unfamiliar location. The more trust a dog has in the person the quicker they’re willing to follow their cues.
Does Your Dog Trust You When You’re Angry?
Does your dog seem to trust you less when you’re angry? When you get frustrated in a training session do they seem less willing to listen?
Do you think this helps explain why staying calm & positive in new situations helps our dogs adjust to new situations?
Kimberly Morris Gauthier says
My dogs read my emotions like crazy, so when I’m feeling stressed or upset, I leave the house and go for a drive or a walk until I get myself under control.
This is also why I stop training sessions when I get frustrated; all the work we’ve done goes down the tubes if I allow my frustration to eek out and my dogs stop listening to me.
Lindsay Stordahl says
I find this very true with Ace! Like Kimberly said, my dog gets very stressed if he senses I am stressed. And since I have a short temper and very little patience I have to be very aware of my emotions. I’ve trained him when I’m frustrated and it just does not go well at all. So I try very hard to remain positive and to just stop if I’m getting even slightly frustrated.
Jen Gabbard says
I try to do the same. It reminds me of the person you see at the dog park yelling frantically at their dog, as if that’s going to encourage them to come running back to them..
sandy weinstein says
yes, so true, when i get mad, not at my dogs, but with other things, i start yelling, and my girls go and hide even though i am not directing my anger at them. they know when i am upset and get out of my way. they know when i am sad, crying and come over to comfort me, with hugs and kisses. people would think i am crazy because i talk to my girls like they can really understand me. i carry on converstions with them.
dog names says
Thank you for the post. I thought because the dog is sensitive so they don’t want to be trained by angry people or they are scared… never think they don’t trust angry people 😮 Never express angry with them anymore. And better don’t be angry, be patient and generous 😀