The inner lives of dogs: what our canine friends really think about love, lust and laughter

They make brilliant companions, but do dogs really feel empathy for humans – and what is going through their minds when they play, panic or attack?

Read more: the inner lives of cats: what our feline friends really think

It is humanity’s great frustration, to gaze into the eyes of a dog, feel so very close to the creature, and yet have no clue what it’s thinking. It’s like the first question you ask of a recently born baby, with all that aching, loving urgency: is that a first smile? Or yet more wind? Except that it’s like that for ever.

I can never know what my staffie is thinking. Does Romeo realise that what he just did was funny, and did he do it on purpose? Is he laughing on the inside? Can he smile? Can he feel anxious about the future? Can he remember life as a puppy? Does he still get the horn, even though I had his knackers off some years ago? And, greater than all these things: does he love me? I mean, really love me, the way I love him?

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