Trending
Dog sitter finds bed chewed up by dogs. They’re way ahead of him when it comes to punishment
These dogs already knew what was coming after they chewed up the bed. You can just see the guilt in their faces!
Kate Luther
09.11.17

Do dogs really know when they’ve done wrong?

Many pet owners would say “YES” with confidence, having seen that all too familiar guilty look first-hand. And after watching this video, you may be inclined to agree!

YouTube Screen Shot
Source:
YouTube Screen Shot

While pet-sitting for a friend, the gentleman in this video discovers that one of the dog beds has been chewed… in fact, there’s stuffing all over the floor! But it’s what happens next that makes this worth watching – when he says something to the dogs, they punish themselves!

YouTube Screen Shot
Source:
YouTube Screen Shot

You can hear Gideon asking who was to blame. “Who did this,” he says as he surveys the damage. But when he turns, the dogs have already climbed into their kennels, ready for the timeout they know they’re about to get!

YouTube Screen Shot
Source:
YouTube Screen Shot

Now, there is a debate on whether or not pets actually “know” when they’ve done wrong. As a dog owner myself, I can tell you that my Chihuahua most certainly seems to comprehend what she’s done, and often before her mishap has been discovered.

But according to Dr. Kathryn Primm at I Heart Dogs, guilt is a human emotion. What we assume is the dog feeling remorseful over a bad action is simply the animal reacting to the change they sense in our tone and behavior.

“It is important to think about how animals are completely dependent on their ability to be tuned in to cues from their environment,” Dr. Primm says. “Being alert to subtle details can be a life or death skill for an animal and you are the pack leader. So when you come in the door and your dog sees you tense as you notice his accident, he is immediately on alert. He can’t connect the accident (which may have occurred hours ago) with his actions or your reaction, but he is heightened to your body language of displeasure.”

In other words, your dog doesn’t actually feel guilty… they just know that you’re upset and that makes them upset too.

But if that’s true, you might be asking, then why do they tuck tail and slink off before any punishment has been given?

The answer to that could be hidden in their DNA. The tail-between-the-legs is actually a submissive pose, according to Dr. Nathan Lents, Ph.D., an “apology-bow” that dogs have inherited from their wolf brethren.

“Dogs have inherited this behavior and they will use it after any kind of infraction that results in being punished,” says Dr. Lents. “As social animals, they crave harmonious integration in the group and neglect or isolation is painful for them.”

YouTube Screen Shot
Source:
YouTube Screen Shot

The apology-bow is their way of asking to be welcomed back into their pack as it were, or in this case, your good graces. And yes, that means that – at least in some cases, the apology-bow does double-duty.

While it’s definitely submissive, it can also be an apology. “The key,” says Lents, “is context.”

If the dog is caught in the act for example, they may very well understand what you’re angry about. If the act happened earlier and is just now being discovered, it’s more likely that your dog is simply assuming a submissive role to placate you and return harmony to their pack.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

By Kate Luther
hi@sbly.com
Kate Luther is a contributor at SBLY Media.
Advertisement
Advertisement