Do Dogs Feel Guilt?
While we love our dogs and think they’re the goodest boys and girls in the world, they’re not always angels. Sometimes, they disobey your rules and chew your shoes, furniture, or your child’s toys. But it can be hard to stay angry at your dog for too long because they look so guilty afterward.
But that leaves one question: can dogs feel guilt?
According to dog behavior experts, no.
Guilt is a complicated emotion that is difficult for even humans to process. While dogs are smart and emotional animals, expecting them to recognize the shame of having done something wrong can be too much for them. After all, even humans have a lot of trouble recognizing when they feel guilty for doing something wrong.
So what does it mean when your dog sits meekly by your chewed-up slippers with a wide-eyed look in their eye?
Experts generally agree it’s not because they know they’ve done something bad. Dogs have an extremely limited sense of time, and unless you catch your dog in the middle of the act, they most likely won’t recognize that you’re upset that they did something wrong.
Instead, your dog will recognize that you are angry with them. If you are prone to yelling or scolding your dog when they do something wrong, your dog will immediately display submissive behaviorr when they know you’re angry. These submissive behaviors, like a meek expression and a bowed head, look a lot like how humans display guilt.
Overall, your dog can’t feel guilt and probably doesn’t feel bad for chewing your slipper. But they can anticipate your negative emotions and will respond accordingly.