Dogs may look guilty when they are being told off by their owner for eating the mail or emptying the trash, but they don’t feel shame, according to animal behaviorists.
The guilty look – head cowered, ears back, eyes droopy – is a reaction to the tantrum the owner is throwing now over the damage they did hours earlier.
‘Just get over it and remind yourself not to put temptation in the way next time,’ Dr Bonnie Beaver, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, said.
‘I don’t think dogs actually feel shame,’ Lemire said. ‘I think they know how to placate us with this sad puppy-dog look that makes us think they’re ashamed of what they’ve done.’
‘My guess is that their thinking is, “Oh man, my owner is super mad about something, but I don’t know what, but he seems to calm down when I give him the sad face, so let’s try that again”,’ she said.