Do Dogs Feel Guilty?
If you're a dog owner you know that look. You come home to a package of dog treats ripped to shreds, every last morsel gone. You ask your dog ,"Who did this?" She's got that I'm guilty look. Her ears droop, she gives you those huge puppy dog eyes, cowers her head, tucks in her tail, does everything and anything to avoid eye contact. It's all over dogshaming.com. But, it turns out your dog isn't feeling guilty or shameful.
Most animal behaviorists say it's not the naughty deed, but your body language man's best friend is reacting to. Animal researchers say they're not feeling bad about being busted, they're confused and threatened by your body language and just want to calm down you down.
Canine cognition researchers in Budapest discovered some novel findings in their study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science. If you have a furbaby you probably don't want to admit to this, but scientists found when your fluffy acts guilty, you'll likely scold him less. The researchers say they found there was no significant difference between obedient and disobedient dogs in their display of guilty behaviors after they had an opportunity to break a rule, meaning dogs will act guilty even if they didn’t do it. But, the bad dogs acted guilty for longer that the good dogs.
So we still don’t know for sure -- do dogs experience guilt or are they reading cues and reacting to you? In the end, maybe it doesn’t matter so much as long we can show off our cute guilty dog pictures and video.