Is That a Guilty Look? Studies Revealed Dogs Can’t Feel Remorse
Since the arrival of my puppies, I learned to hide and lift my flip flops off the floor every time I stopped using them. Possibly they already learned the lesson of not chewing them, but … By the fifth pair of nipped flip flops, I learned my own lesson and chose to keep them out of their reach, on top of hiding an extra pair, just in case of another chewing emergency.
Each time, the expression of desolation in their faces, the tail between the legs, quiet, the muzzle in the chest and the gaze fixed on the ground. Each time the expression of “guilt” appeared more quickly and I, of course, felt that the lesson would have finally been internalized: to bite we have bones, not flip flops… Or maybe?
Recent studies have revealed that the “remorse” we’ve seen in the attitude of our dogs when they are rebuked, isn’t exactly guilt because, in reality, they can’t feel remorse like we do.
Although they may seem embarrassed, experts point out that dogs haven’t developed the ability to elaborate such complex emotions as regret, shame or guilt despite their faces and attitudes perfectly in line with the situation.
In reality, those gestures of repentance would be related to the intimidation they feel while seeing our reactions of rage or displeasure when they have been naughty.
One of the indicators for the development of this theory is easy to detect for those who have more than one furry companion: the shyest dog in the group will react to the scolding expressing a greater amount of guilt since it’ll feel more frightened than his brothers and therefore reacts looking “guiltier”.
Loving and manipulative eyes
Anyway, we love to see their guilty faces, sometimes I find it impossible not to laugh. Denver, a Golden Retriever born and raised in Maryland, captivated us in 2011 with his reaction during a “robbery incident”, Watch it here:
Denver on good morning America