Scientists say dogs don’t really feel shame. The “guilty” look is really an attempt to change your response to them.
The Associated Press reports that dogs actually lack guilt. They just don’t want their owners to be mad at them!
One of the first scientific studies on the “guilty dog look” was conducted by Alexandra Horowitz, an associate professor of psychology at Barnard College in New York City.
She videotaped 14 dogs in a series of trials and studied how they reacted when an owner left the room after telling them not to eat a treat.
When the owners returned, sometimes they knew what the dogs had done and sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes the dogs had eaten the treats and sometimes they hadn’t.
“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.