Do dogs forgive their own? To help understand why this is, it’s useful to review what goes on in the dog’s brain when it senses it is being hurt.
In the above example, when a dog thinks its hand is being grabbed, it will initiate a series of physiological systems.
First is the limbic system. This system, which is linked to the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, is involved in our emotional reaction to pain. It is here where the warning of an impending threat appears.
Second is the sympathetic nervous system. This system helps fight back when the limbic system sends out warning signals.
To make the comparison simple, there is a warning system in the brain but its responses aren’t always direct. So dogs feel their paws get grabbed when they are in fact trying, or even more importantly, know about, a threat.
These events trigger the release of adrenaline, which in turn activates the sympathetic and corticotrophin. This triggers vasopressin which then triggers the ACTH (adrenocortical-norepinebral-adrenoceptor) pathway to lead to an increase in the level of cortisol, which in turn leads to increased levels of noradrenaline.
The level of noradrenaline increases when the limbic system sends out warning signals. This, in turn, activates the sympathetic-adrenoceptor pathway.
When this happens, the dog has sensed an impending threat and is trying to stop the pain by releasing noradrenaline with an increase in cortisol. When this happens the dog feels it is being hurt.
While this can happen, it’s not quite that simple. When the level of noradrenaline is high, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog is going to fight back if it is attacked or harmed. Rather it means the cat is going to fight back if provoked by pain.
So dogs will also respond by releasing cortisol levels to try and decrease the level of noradrenaline. This may include releasing other stress hormones such as glucagon like the adrenaline.
Of course, in the example mentioned earlier, it’s possible the dog wasn’t sensing a threat from his hands being grabbed. But is that a good enough reason to fight back?
When do dogs forgive owners or other humans?
For animals, forgiveness occurs on a case by case basis.
In dogs, it usually occurs either out of anger or fear. This is explained
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