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Do Pets Have Emotions?


Dr. Jaak Panksepp has confirmed with science what pet owners have known for hundreds and likely thousands of years….our pets have emotions.

Dr. Jaak Pankseep

Dr. Jaak Pankseep

I was honored to sit down to talk with Panksepp, who was the Key Note Speaker at the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists Veterinary Behavior Symposium, held this past year in San Antonio, TX in conjunction with the Convention of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Panksepp has authored many scientific papers, and books including, “Affecting Neuroscience: The Foundation of Human and Animal Emotions,” and “Psychology of Neurobiology of Empathy (Psychology of Emotions, Motivations and Actions).”

He’s also known as ‘the rat tickler.’

Dr. Pankseep tickles rats

Dr. Pankseep tickles rats

He learned how to stimulate rats to elicit high-frequency chirps identified as rat laughter, so he’s known by some as the rat tickler.

Of course, dogs have emotions

Of course, dogs have emotions

Panksepp has charted seven networks of emotion in the brains of mammals:

  • Seeking
  • Rage
  • Fear
  • Lust
  • Care
  • Panic/Grief
  • Play


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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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