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  • April Schrader, CPDT-KA

NO...Your dog does not feel guilt!

Your dog is amoral, the sooner we understand that the better our relationship with them becomes.

No doubt online dog shaming is popular topic lately, and while your dog may be casting an apologetic look they do not feet guilt!! Since the start of the dog shaming phenomena we have seen everything from dogs who have chewed shoes, sofas, toilet rolls, and dogs who have a habit of steeling food. While the photos may show the owners displeasure with their dog, that "guilty" look their dog is portraying is not evidence of feeling guilt or contrition.

Veterinary scientist have done a number of studies and it is clear that dogs do not feel or display guilt. It's just not the way their brain works! What you are actually seeing is appeasement like behavior that is misinterpreted as guilt. Your dog is also a master at body language so "guilty look" is your dog responding to your reaction then and there, not the sofa they chewed up hours ago. Your dog is confused more than anything, because you are upset and they have no idea why.

Dogs live and learn in the present, punishing them hours later or punishing them at all does nothing to teach them not to do that behavior. We also have to remember that all behavior has a purpose, that destructive behavior you notice while you away could actually be separation anxiety. Other people may see dog shaming as good fun, I see a dog that's in distress and needs some help.

Studies have validated that is it the actual scolding that brings out the submissive behaviors from dogs, not the emotion of guilt. Dog shaming perpetuates a common, and damaging myth about dogs, their behavior and how they learn.

So, if your dog is chewing up your things, peeing in your house or jumping on your guests instead of scolding them work with a certified professional dog trainer. They will be able to show you how to communicate properly with your dog.

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