The “guilty” look

Do we get it right – trying to communicate information to our pets? Why then do their “bad” behaviours continue?

Naturally we view everything from our human perspective. We judge situations by our own experiences, by our needs and by our norms, so misunderstandings with our pets can happen easily. Confusion and stress can result, which often worsens the problem.

That ‘guilty look’ – the low posture and looking down as you raise your voice and wave your finger at your dog isn’t guilt at all. Its “I see you’re angry about something. I’m sorry you feel that way. Please don’t fight with me.”

Experiments show that ‘the guilty look’ will be seen regardless of whether dogs have done the ‘wrong’ thing or not. Just the person’s harsh interaction with them is what brings on the look. It’s not to say that dogs don’t feel guilt, it’s simply that their reaction is the same even if merely trying to diffuse tension or confrontation. So the point is, does your dog understand his or her harsh reprimand, or punishment? Is it resulting in their “bad” behaviour stopping?

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