Do Dogs Understand Guilt?

February 22, 2017

© Barbara Helgason | Dreamstime

Dog owners know the face all too well.  You return home to see one of the couch pillow stuffing all over the floor, or the garbage can overturned with the contents all over the floor.  You scold your dog, who points their nose downward and looks up to you with their shameful eyes.  It appears that your lecture is being heard loud and clear, but does your dog actually understand what you are saying and feels guilty for their actions?  According to the experts, no.  Dogs do not understand guilt as humans do and that face they display is not of guilt of one of fear.  Dr. Alexandra Horowitz has studied the mental actions or processes of dogs and suggests that although dogs have memory, they aren't thinking in the same way as we do.  She says the concept of a dog thinking about their past actions and deciding they've done something wrong isn't necessarily how their minds work.  Since we don't know for sure how our dog's mind works, we rely on how we process memories to justify what they are thinking, such as their personalities.  But that's just science explaining how we bond with our pets.  So as much as pet shaming pictures are posted online, know your dog isn't experiencing guilt, even if they look shameful.

SOURCE: Business Insider

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