What a Dog's Guilty Face is Hiding

What a Dog's Guilty Face is Hiding

Last update: 02 August, 2018

When a dog does something bad or does some mischief, he will have an expression of guilt on his face. However, do dogs know the difference right and wrong? If they know they’ve done wrong, then why do they do it? Continue reading to find out the answers to these questions and to other ones related to a dog’s guilty face. 

A dog’s guilty face: Calming signals

A dog’s guilty face is easy to recognize because his ears point backwards, his eyes demonstrate sadness and sometimes a dog even moves his tail out of nervousness. Other dogs, with those same sad eyes, turn around as if they were hiding from an angry human. However, sometimes dogs show their teeth as if they were smiling. 
a dog's guilty face
In reality, these gestures don’t indicate guilt because they are signals that are meant to calm you down. These calming signals are a dog’s way of telling you that he dog doesn’t want to cause you any problems. In other words, when a dog puts on his “guilty face”, he is actually telling his owner not to punish him, because he is having a hard time.

Other calming signals

Most canine language is part of these calming signals. Other signals they often show are the following:
  • Licking his nose. Your dog doesn’t lick his nose because the food is delicious. He does it because he gets excited when you approach him with the dish. He’s trying to calm himself down.
  • Turning his head. When we take out our cell phone and take a picture of a dog, he will almost always turn his head. Dogs do this because the phone intimidates them and they are asking us to move away.
  • Sniffing the floor.  Most of the time when you are at a park, and you call your dog with an aggressive tone, he will approach you slowly and might stop and sniff something. He does that because it’s his way of telling you that he doesn’t want you to get angry.

Knowing the difference between right and wrong

Dogs don’t know the difference between right and wrong because these are two philosophical concepts of human beings. However, dogs do know if their actions carry out positive or negative consequences.
Therefore, they demonstrate all of those calming signals. They know what they have done will make their owner angry or cause a fight–he might even think he might get hit. Therefore, they try to calm their owners with calming signals, but many humans don’t understand them. Furthermore, humans like to punish and fight a lot, and dogs know it.
The reason why dogs are very good observers is because they start realizing there is something wrong just before humans get angry. So, they use these calming signals just before humans get upset.

Why dogs behave badly

Dogs most likely don’t intend to behave badly. For thousands of years, humans have genetically selected dogs who wanted to please them, so they never want to harm their humans or make them mad. Therefore, a dog doesn’t put on his guilty face for what he has done, he does it for the consequences of his actions may carry.
When you see a dog misbehaving, it’s usually because he cannot help it. So, dogs don’t destroy things in the house or get into to the trash out of revenge. Normally, these dogs are so overwhelmed or stressed out that they have to release their energy on something. You should know that dogs calm themselves by chewing on things.

In other words, a dog that destroys things because he is trying to relax. If a dog misbehaves, it’s because he’s out of control and can’t help it.

Therefore, that’s why they ask for our forgiveness and ask us not to punish them. Dogs don’t misbehave intentionally, they do it because they lose control of themselves.

A sad dog

Prevent your dog from behaving badly

It’s up to dog owner to keep their dogs from having such a bad time that they are forced to bite or break things. Owners are responsible when their dogs lose control, and need to bite whatever is within their reach. Therefore, people must foresee problems that they don’t know how to solve. Every dog and every case has a different solution, and we are the ones who know our dogs best.
Many times, some dogs destroy cushions or tear up their owners’ clothes because they have no toys or objects of their own to chew on. It turns out that chewing and gnawing are basic necessities in any canine species. So, if you don’t provide them with a suitable object, they will find one on their own.
A dog prefers dental treats, dry tendons, raw bones over cushions. Therefore, it’s up to you to prevent your pet from getting into trouble. For example, if your dog often gets into fights with other dogs in the park, then it might be a better option not to go at all; or wait until all of the other dogs are inside their homes.
Dogs that get anxious when they’re left at home alone and have trouble calming themselves with chew toys should get help from a dog trainer. Separation anxiety is a complex disorder that should be treated by a specialist.

Dogs don’t know the difference between right and wrong, which is exactly why the concept of a dog’s guilty face doesn’t exist.

However, they do know when people get angry, and they try to apologize even if humans don’t listen to them. Therefore, if you anticipate your dog’s problems, the both of you will have a happier relationship.

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.