Vol. 7 No. 3 (2021)

Perceptions of domestic dogs’ (Canis familiaris) manifestations of joy, shame and stress based on photographs

Ewelina Kuźniewska
University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn
Janusz Strychalski
University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn

Published 2022-05-26


  • canine body language,
  • dog emotions,
  • stress,
  • human-dog communication


The aim of the study was to determine the extent to which the experience of owning a dog, the number of owned dogs, ownership of purebred or crossbreed dogs, the dog’s breed, and membership in online social groups dedicated to obedience and agility training affect the ability to identify feelings of joy, shame and stress in dogs based on photographs. An online survey was shared on selected social networking sites dedicated to dogs. Respondents were given links to 11 online photographs. The questionnaire was completed by 513 people. The duration of ownership or the number of owned dogs were not correlated with the ability to identify canine behaviors indicative of joy, shame or stress. However, the obtained results revealed that ownership of purebred or crossbreed dogs affects the owners’ capability to interpret dogs feelings. In one of the photos, the Border Collie owners were less likely to notice signs of joy in dogs than the owners of defensive breeds, dogs from FCI group V, and dogs  from FCI group IX. Signs of stress were not identified by any terrier owner, while it was noticed by 9.30% of owners of FCI group VIII dogs. The majority of dog owners who were not members of obedience/agility online social groups recognized more signs of joy and shame, but fewer signs of stress than the respondents who belonged to these groups. The results of the study indicate that a dog’s breed and genetic origin (purebred vs. crossbreed), and the owner’s interest in cynological sports influence humans’ ability to read canine behaviors and emotions.