Is the guilty look of your dog really guilt?

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Some of these scenarios may be too familiar to you: He pooped on the floor at home. He chewed something you wished he didn’t. He knocked down a rubbish bin and ate whatever inside. When you confront your dog and shout “bad dog”, he has a guilty look on his face. But the truth is…

The truth is, despite of your logical perception of what looks like guilt, it’s fear he expresses.

Their “guilty” look is distinctive – the dog cowers, showing the whites of its eyes while looking up at you. Perhaps he pins its ears a bit back to its head or licks the air. We, humans, are wired to see these signs as a guilty look. It’s nobody fault that in fact we misattribute based on our own human emotions.

Alexandra Horowitz, a dog cognitive scientist and an author of “Inside a dog: what dogs see, smell and know” studies and examines how dogs perceive the world. She points out a dog seemingly showing a “guilty” look is actually demonstrating fear of scolding (“owner cues”) rather than guilt (“an understanding of and a reflection on a misdeed”)

So, before applying the language of human emotions to dogs, remember things might not be what they seem.

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