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Do dogs feel guilt?

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Posted on April 27 2018

It is very common to hear phrases like "he knows he did something bad because since he came to the house he looks guilty". However, scientific studies on animal behavior show that this "guilty look" is just an interpretation of the owner. This is proved by an experiment conducted by Alexandra Horowitz, a professor at Barnard College in New York, and published in the scientific journal "Behavioral Processes".

In this experiment it was shown that the human tendency to attribute a "look" or "look" of a dog to guilt, without this being related to the behavior of the dog. People see "guilt" in the dog's body language when they think their pet has done something they should not have done, regardless of whether it's true or not.



During the study, the owners were asked to leave their house after ordering their dog not to eat a certain food, during their absence, the researcher gave the dogs their hand the "forbidden" food and then brought the owner in the house; in some cases the owners were told that their dog had eaten the forbidden food. And in others, they were told that their dog had behaved correctly and had not touched the food.

It was found that when people thought that the dog had behaved badly, they saw that guilty look on dogs, although what owners were told about their pet's behavior was not related to what they actually did.

In addition, dogs that had been obedient and had not eaten, but were scolded by their owners, seemed more "guilty" than those who had actually disobeyed the order.

In conclusion, the "look", guilty is rather a response to the behavior of the owner, and does not indicate that the animal feels guilty for having done something wrong.

This is important in your relationship with your dog, remember, if you did not see it when you were doing something forbidden, then there is no point in scolding. With a dog do not work the punishments of the type "you will be a week without watching television", the correction must be short and in the moment. Do not punish the dog for hours. And much better, give him the opportunity to have good behaviors, preparing the environment so that there are no antics.

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