“My dog knows he did something stupid when I come home because he is sheepish and does not know where to go” …
If I had had to touch 1 € each time I heard this speech, I would be rich at the moment! Rich … but completely satiated because i know that this is totally false!
When you return home, your dog adopts a “guilty” attitude, he has a fairly low posture, his ears down, the tail between his paws, he looks away, squinting and takes refuge in a corner: ah but c ‘is obvious, he admits his stupidity! … In fact no, not at all! All these signals that your dog sends you, are in reality signals of appeasement that it transmits to you to relieve the situation and therefore avoid a conflict, a sanction.
If one assumes that the dog lives in the present moment (which is the case), it is completely incoherent to say that a dog can remember the act which generated the current anger of its human.
I am talking about an act and not stupidity (although I will use this term often in this article to make it simpler) because the word “stupidity” simply does not exist among our canine friends. A dog will act according to its state (boredom, excitement, frustration, anxiety, etc.)! He will not do something stupid to take revenge or to show his jealousy or his resentment: these emotions are simply too intellectually complex for the dog. Yes our dogs are smart, but sorry … not that bad.
In addition, of course, if you catch your dog in the act, it is obvious that your dog will associate his immediate action with your sanction (verbal, and not physical, of course). On the other hand, if you find stupidity afterwards and scold your dog, it can even become very problematic and we will see why right here!
Why do you think your dog knows he has done something stupid?
If your dog is completely terrified when you return, know that it is absolutely not because he knows he has done something stupid, it is because he knows that for sure, you go back in and scold him, because that’s what you do systematically. Why do you do it systematically? Well, because every time you go home, your dog has done something stupid in your absence.
So I have only one question to submit to you and you must answer: does the method you use, namely scolding your dog each time you return works? Did your dog understand that he had to stop doing stupid things? So don’t think too long because I have the answer: NO!
Your dog does not understand why you are scolding him, however, he knows that it is systematic. It is therefore for this reason that he has a very withdrawn, withdrawn or even fearful attitude when you return.
You see this as a sign of “intelligence” but it is ultimately a symptom of poor consistency and correctness in your attitude.
Why not scold your dog afterwards?
As I said earlier, the dog is an animal that lives in the present moment but is nonetheless receptive to the repetition of the same attitude. Clearly, this means that your dog will not understand why he is sanctioned for a stupidity made several hours before but he will understand that your attitude is always the same when you return home.
Scolding your dog afterwards is therefore to express to your dog an inconsistency and instability. It can even end up causing big gaps in your relationship with your doggie.
You must therefore always respect the “not seen, not taken” rule, whether for uncleanliness or destruction. I know that it is sometimes difficult to contain your annoyance at nonsense which can sometimes be very unpleasant, but take it on yourself and make sure rather that you understand the cause of this nonsense to solve the problem more deeply.
Experiments prove dogs don’t know they’ve done something wrong
On the internet, at our dear friend Youtube, you will find many videos that researchers (or even individuals) have made to make the link between stupidity and the “guilty look” of the dog when his master returns.
And it turns out that, whether the dog is guilty or not, he adopts exactly the same attitude, with the same signs of appeasement (truffle licks, yawning, narrowed eyes, round back, tail between paws, etc.).
And why does the dog adopt the same attitude? Because his human systematically scolds him, on each return, without moreover trying to understand if there really was a stupidity or not, or if the stupidity was made by this dog in question elsewhere.
In summary :
Your dog should not be afraid of you when you get home. And if you think your dog knows he did something stupid, it is because he associated your return with something negative. It’s sad isn’t it?
Personally, I prefer that my dog be happy that I come home and take care of him rather than being afraid of my possible reactions of irritation and annoyance.
- Respect the “not seen, not taken” rule
- If there is stupidity, do not clean / store in front of your dog.
- Punish (verbally) your dog only if you catch him.
- When you get home: ignore your dog completely (don’t look at it, don’t touch it or talk to it).
- Find the cause of your dog’s mess or destruction and fix the problem thoroughly.
- Do not persevere in an attitude that does not lead to progress in the education and behavior of your dog. What does not work should not be repeated!
- Learn to read and understand your dog’s calming signals.
- Always have a consistent and fair attitude towards him.
- Do not lend human feelings to your dog: guilt, revenge: he does not know!