Royal’s response to the guilty look

Royal here! Once again to give you the scoop from a dog’s perspective. Jenn’s last blog talked about a study that debunked the myth of the so-called “guilty look.” First of all, I am so glad that you humans are finally wising up and doing real scientific research on dog behavior and body language. Go science!!

Studies like those by Dr. Alexandra Horowitz are showing that we dogs are skilled communicators (of course we are!) and you humans need to pay more attention and learn how to understand our body language. Case and point is the “guilty look.” To you, it looks like we are admitting wrongdoing, so you’re attributing your thinking patterns and emotions to us.  Truth is, we don’t feel right and wrong like you do. We’re just trying to avoid conflict and confrontation, that’s pretty much how we navigate the world.

Let’s run through the typical scenario of why a dog might look guilty:

  • You leave us cooped up in the house all day long and it is only natural that we might entertain ourselves with some creative chewing, such as nibbling on that ugly rug in the hallway. I mean really, that thing is unsightly. In our minds, we’re doing you a favor.
  • Instead of telling us how awesome we are when you come home, you get mean and angry. We’ve learned that the best strategy to get you to calm down is to look smaller, avoid eye contact, ears back, etc. And then you pull your camera out, it goes viral, and then where are we?

Honestly, you humans are so difficult to understand. Put the camera down. Give your dog the benefit of the doubt. Spend more time enriching your dog’s life and environment so we won’t do things you don’t like. All we want to do is get along, we just need a little more understanding.

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