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Do Dogs Hold Grudges?

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

I’m not sure, but the question has come up a few times, and very recently from Kelly in Iowa.

Some people say, ”No they don't or can't because of limitations in thought, the “thinking process,” while others are sure they do!

Marc Bekoff, perhaps the country’s leading ethnologist, reported that when a random 20 people were asked, ten said ,”Yes, they do hold grudges.” And ten said “No, they don’t” or “Maybe not.”

We think of our animal companions, especially our dogs, as giving us unconditional love. People are always saying that’s what our pets give us. But, contrary to what we believe, they don’t. They are not “unconditional lovers,” Bekoff says. They don’t accept everything that happens to them, and most importantly, they remember being treated badly.

Dr. Bekoff points out that dogs have deep emotional lives and excellent memories, recalling quite vividly past events. It’s apparently not true that they just “live in the moment.” The present. They don’t… and so there’s no reason to think they don’t hold grudges from past events. There is no reason to think they don’t resent “other animals, including dogs and humans who wronged them.” So, why shouldn’t they hold a grudge?

While it’s not exactly clear if dogs do hold grudges, they know from memory exactly whom they want to play with, and “hang out“ with. And whom they don’t! Very likely it’s a dog that’s growled at them before, or a person who was unkind and inconsiderate! They remember.

My vote says, yes, dogs do hold grudges… in their own way. And why not?

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