Do Dogs Think? Here's What Could Be on Their Minds

Dogs often seem to know what’s happening around them! Whether your furry friend scurries into another room when you wheel out the vacuum cleaner or hurries to your side when you open a treat pouch, their mind can anticipate what’s about to happen next. This may have you wondering if your pup is capable of expressing thoughts.

So, Do Dogs Think?

Yes! Dogs do think and can experience a wide variety of thoughts and emotions. Although it’s not known exactly how dogs think—after all, they can’t think in words like humans can—evidence suggests dogs can learn, understand, and even be creative. Furry friends use their brains to…

Solve problems: If you’ve ever given your pup a puzzle toy or dog treat toy, you’ve seen these skills in action. In addition to solving simple problems like finding hidden treats, dogs are smart enough to perform basic math equations. In fact, they can notice errors such as 1+1=1 or 1+1=3, according to the American Psychological Association.

Remember experiences: Does your furry friend get extra excited when certain people come to visit? Dogs can remember humans and animals they’ve met before, as well as how they felt about them. Although doggy memories are not as complex as our own, these thoughts play an important role in how pups perceive their world.

Interpret gestures: From reading facial expressions to following commands, dogs can understand humans in some pretty impressive ways. Pooches are also like kids in their ability to pick up on certain cues; dogs have the same capacity to learn human pointing gestures as two-year-old children, according to NBC News. When you point at a toy you’ve thrown during fetch, for example, your dog will understand you’re helping them find it.

Deceive others: That’s right—we aren’t the only ones capable of trickery! A 2017 study published in Animal Cognition concluded dogs are capable of using tactical deception, finding that the canines observed were more likely to intentionally mislead a “competitive” human (someone who didn’t give them a preferred food) than a “cooperative” human (someone who did give them a preferred food).


RELATED: What Dogs Dream About -- Their Sleepy Minds Explored


What Do Dogs Think About?

dog looking out window

While the science community is still learning what dogs might think about, furry friends’ actions can hint at what’s on their mind. Here are some common topics your pup probably thinks about often.

Food: No surprises here! Your dog’s favorite flavors may pop into their mind, and they can also anticipate their next meal. For those times your dog doesn’t get to taste the human snack they’re begging for, its tantalizing aroma might occupy their thoughts.

Friends and family: Don’t be surprised if your dog thinks about you often. As social creatures, furry friends dedicate time to thinking about their favorite people or other dogs. Following you around, looking at you, and even stealing your clothes are some of the more surprising signs your dog loves you.

Playtime: There’s nothing better for a case of the dog zoomies than playtime! Whether your pup drops a dog play toy at your feet or runs toward the yard when you come home, dogs have lots of ways to show that playtime’s been on their mind.

Health: Many dogs have a routine for sleeping, eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom. When these physical needs are delayed or forgotten, dogs may think about ways to remind their pet parents—such as standing by the back door when they have to go out or bringing over their empty water bowl.

Senses: Pups are often fascinated by the world around them. When your dog experiences a new sight, smell, or sound, they may be curious to know what it is. Giving your dog creative play toys in a variety of shapes and textures can offer them a fun way to explore and embrace their creative side!

A Penny for Their Thoughts

Not all dogs think about the same things for the same amount of time. An athletic Siberian Husky, for example, might spend more time wondering about their next playtime session while a Basset Hound could be more focused on exploring a new scent. Whatever crosses your best friend’s mind, remember that dogs do think and need to keep their minds active.



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