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What’s The Difference Between Dog Excitement and Arousal?

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Author: Team Perfect Pet

This article can be read in

Excitement and arousal are two related but distinct emotional states in dogs. While they might seem similar at first glance, understanding their differences is essential for interpreting your dog’s behaviour accurately.

Trained young dog at home posing in white background indoors

Excitement

Excitement in dogs is a positive emotion associated with high energy and enthusiasm. It is often triggered by anticipation of something enjoyable, like playtime, going for a walk, or meeting a favourite person. Here are some characteristics of excitement in dogs:

1. Physical Signs

A wagging tail that moves in a loose, fluid manner is a typical sign of excitement. Dogs may also have a bouncy gait, and their movements might be quick and animated.

2. Verbal Expressions

Excited dogs may bark or vocalise in a high-pitched and eager tone. They might also whimper or whine with excitement.

3. Facial Expressions

When excited, a dog’s facial muscles may appear relaxed, and its eyes may be bright and wide open, showing interest in its surroundings.

4. Behaviour

Dogs in a state of excitement may display play behaviours like bowing, running around, or playfully nipping. They may approach people or objects with enthusiasm.

Arousal

Arousal, on the other hand, refers to an increased level of emotional and physiological responsiveness. It is not inherently positive or negative and can encompass various emotions, including excitement, anxiety, fear, or aggression. Arousal can arise from various stimuli and situations. Here are some characteristics of arousal in dogs:

1. Physical Signs

A wagging tail that moves in a loose, fluid manner is a typical sign of excitement. Dogs may also have a bouncy gait, and their movements might be quick and animated.

2. Verbal Expressions

Dogs in an aroused state may bark, growl, or whine, depending on the specific emotion that triggers the arousal.

3. Facial Expressions

An aroused dog might have a more intense gaze, and their facial muscles may appear tense or tightened.

4. Behaviour

The behaviour displayed during arousal can vary widely depending on the underlying emotion. For example, an aroused dog might show excitement by playing exuberantly or demonstrate arousal due to fear by barking defensively or trying to escape from the situation.

Summary

Excitement is a specific positive emotion characterised by enthusiasm and high energy, often associated with pleasant experiences. Arousal, on the other hand, is a broader state of heightened responsiveness that can encompass a range of emotions, including excitement, anxiety, fear, or aggression. Understanding the context and the specific cues displayed by your dog will help you distinguish between excitement and other forms of arousal, allowing you to respond appropriately to their emotional needs.

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