Can a Dog Suffer From Stockholm Syndrome? [Vet Advice]

Loving pet parents consider their pets as their whole world. We provide the best for our pets. in return, we expect their loyalty and love for us. Is that love real, or is it a symptom of Stockholm syndrome?

Dogs who are caged throughout the day and mishandled by their owners can develop signs of Stockholm syndrome. As they can’t express themselves freely, this condition arises. Showing your love, providing the best, and treating the pets respectfully will help avoid such conditions.

Let’s find out what your pet’s feelings are towards you.

Are dogs victims of Stockholm syndrome?

There are many opinions in different societies about whether your pets love you or are simply attached to you because you are their caretaker or captivator.

What is Stockholm syndrome? It is a coping mechanism where when someone is captive or abused by a particular person, they develop positive feelings towards their abuser.

This was first explained as related to humans. However, a plenty of research is being conducted to determine whether captive pets have the same syndrome.

We must understand that we cannot interpret the feelings of pets by relating them to our feelings. We refer to that as anthropomorphism.

When our pooch wags its tail, we say they are happy. When they bark at a stranger, we presume they show aggression. But is it fair for us to judge their reactions according to human feelings?

New research has found that some dogs show signs of Stockholm syndrome. Let’s see why. We know that dogs have been domesticated for over 30000 years. We consider dogs the closest to our species.

However, we cannot neglect the point that they are caged and held captive in our households. If they were stray dogs, they would live with their species in a pact.

They can free roam and mingle with their kind. They can express their feelings in their language. But now, we have made our pets utterly dependent on us. They depend on us for food, safety, medicine, and physical needs.

Suggested Reading: Why do some rescue dogs seem depressed?

How can we know if a dog suffers from Stockholm Syndrome?

Canine Stockholm syndrome still creates doubts in many pet owners. Pet owners want to believe that their pets adore and love them. That can be true.

Your pooch might consider you his best friend. Why shouldn’t he? You provide him with the best. However, we must understand we cannot accurately interpret animals’ emotions 100%.

As we know, Stockholm syndrome is feeling positive feelings toward one’s captivator. Your dog might show similar signs.

Even if a pet is caged most of the day and not very well provided by an owner, that pet is still excited to see him. It shows affection towards the owner, which might indicate symptoms of Stockholm syndrome.

Especially if that pet doesn’t show affection towards other family members who might take care of him. If it doesn’t allow them to be touched or pampered by others who are not keeping him caged or mistreating him, that can be an indicator.

What can you do if your doggo suffers from Stockholm Syndrome?

Whether or not your pet suffers from Stockholm syndrome, you must treat him well. Although dogs are domesticated, we must remember that they are pack animals.

They can still have those instincts. That’s why dogs are more socialized with humans than any other species. Therefore, we must socialize with them as much as possible and allow them to hang out freely without being caged.

Let’s look at 5 activities to make your pooch feel loved.

1. Daily playtime with your pooch.

Most of us lead very busy lifestyles, which keeps us engaged throughout the day. But is your pet’s fault? Then why is he caged or locked inside your apartment until you reach home? It’s for our own convenience. Throughout the day, he feels lonely and bored.

The best alternative is to spend quality time with your pooch when you return home. Make it a habit to play with him, and teach him new tricks and games. It will energize both your pup and yourself.

Don’t limit this to you and your pooch. Invite your friends and their pets as well. Dogs are sociable animals. They love new playmates as well.

2. Show your love.

Although we cannot know exactly what our pets feel, we cannot miss it when they show us love. Similarly, our pets will know when we show them our love.

Ear rubs, having loving conversations with your pet, cuddling him, playing with him, and taking him out with you to run errands are simple ways to make him feel loved.

3. Respect your pet.

Why should you respect your pet? Dogs are inherently pact animals. They live within their boundaries and have their own responsibilities towards the pact.

They respect each other’s space. Therefore, we should also respect our pet’s boundaries. It will help to strengthen your relationship with them.

4. Give him treats.

We know you provide your pet with the best food you can afford. However, everyone likes a surprise treat once in a while. It will make them feel special.

Even if we get tired after eating the same food for so long, so will they. Giving new treats will make him feel loved.

5. Maintain your eye contact.

We, humans, trust others who maintain eye contact during a conversation. It is similar to our pet dogs. When you talk to or give him a command, maintain eye contact. It will strengthen your relationship.

Things to be aware of.

Canine Stockholm syndrome is a controversial topic in a way. While much research has found that pets and their owners have a relationship similar to a captive and a captivator, loving pet owners genuinely believe their pets love them.

This won’t change the fact that some pets are not well-treated by their owners. This can be due to many reasons, to mention a  few:

  • Busy lifestyles of owners.
  • Losing interest in pets after they adopt them
  • Ignorance.

However, the poor animals suffer in silence at the end of the day. Whether it is Stockholm syndrome, anxiety, or depression, we can avoid them by simply caring for our pets as family members with love, care, and respect.

Adopting a pet is sometimes not a good option if you are extremely busy but love pets. Because your pet will be locked up inside your home for most of the day until you return. Here are a few sacrifices to make for such an instance.

  • Do not adopt a pet if you do not have enough time to spend with them or cannot provide him with the best.
  • Engage in volunteer work that tries to make a better life for animals.
  • Volunteer for fundraisers and awareness programs.
  • Volunteer in your local animal shelter for dog walks or playtimes with pets.


The article addresses Canine Stockholm syndrome and how to avoid Stockholm syndrome, anxiety, and depression in pets.

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