Your dog is just sitting there, looking all cute, and it’s hard to stay mad for more than about 3.5 seconds. There facial expressions say it all.
They know they have done something wrong, and they’re guilty looking!
Do Dogs Really Feel Guilt Though?
An assistant professor at Barnard College, Andrea Horowitz did a study on this. She gathered a group of dog owners and their pets and instructed the dog owners to tell their dogs NOT to eat a really delicious treat, but then to leave the room.
She didn’t tell the owners which dogs gave in and ate the “forbidden” treats and which ones behaved. She even told some owners that their dog did eat the treat, when they hadn’t. The owners that were told that their dog’s misbehaved (even when they hadn’t) said their dogs looked guilty.
This study was published in the journal, Behavioral Processes. It concluded that what we think is a “dog’s guilty face” is really just all in our heads! It turns out that what we think looks like a guilty dog is really just the result of us scolding them.
Discouraging Unwanted Behavior
- Ignore your dog when he/she first misbehaves (if your dog has your attention, it’s a reward in itself).
- Avoid putting your pet in a situation in which he will misbehave.
- Reward “good” behavior.