Does Your Dog Look Guilty?

guiltyHave you ever caught your dog doing something, then scolded him, only to be met with a very sheepish look from your dog? Our collie used to slink to the floor when she was discovered on the living room couch. She actually looked like she was trying to disappear under the carpet.

A researcher from Barnard College named Alexandra Horowitz thinks that we (the humans) may actually help cause that guilty look.

To test her theory, she used 14 pairs of dogs and their humans. She had each person tell their dog to leave a snack alone, then leave the room. Horowitz then gave the treat to some dogs, but simply took it off of the counter with other dogs.

When the people returned to the room, she told some that their dogs had disobeyed and told others that the dogs had obeyed, regardless of what the dogs had really done.

She found that the dogs who had obeyed, but were scolded anyways, actually looked guiltier than those who were rightfully scolded for their disobedience.

Horowitz’ conclusion is that the scolding causes the dog to look guilty, not the actual act of disobedience.

My take? It’s really mean to mess with a dog’s mind this way!

Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!

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5 thoughts on “Does Your Dog Look Guilty?”

  1. That is mean. And I disagree. I have come home many times expecting a warm, thrilled greeting and found my dog cowering in a corner. Just the other day I came home from being gone a few hours and I’m bracing myself for the joyous bounding mass of slobber but instead she was doing the guilty thing so naturally I go to figure out what she did and she had broke into the garage and pulled out a roastery chicken carcass I had thrown out before I left. I never actually found the carcass but I found the container and bubberband that held the drumsticks together. Another time she refused to go upstairs to go to bed and I couldn’t figure out why so I picked her up and lugged her 60+ pounds upstairs and checked my room for pee or something eaten but found nothing but woke up in the morning and stepped on a chicken breast that mysteriously found its way through my closed door in the dead of the night. So I think it depends.

  2. the guilty look they give you is a sign of happy submission. now they now you are in charge when you take chrge by, say, scolding.

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