Here’s a newsflash for all you dog owners: Fido’s got you figured out! When your dog looks guilty after you scold him for jumping on the sofa or digging up your flower bed, he’s not sorry about the muddy paw prints or dead roses. He’s trying to get you to chill out! Here are the details from Eurekalert.org.
Alexandra Horowitz, a professor at Barnard College in New York, wanted to find out what was behind the “guilty look” dogs get when their owners catch them doing something wrong. So, she had volunteers bring their pets to an area where treats were within each dog’s reach. After a brief discussion, Horowitz asked the owners to leave – and made sure they instructed their pets not to eat the treats. While the owners were gone, half the dogs went for a treat and half didn’t. Horowitz fibbed to the owners. She told those whose dogs obeyed that they’d stolen the food, and owners of the dogs that actually took treats were told that their dogs behaved.
So, guess which dogs gave their owners that, “I’m sorry” look? The ones who’d been framed! The pets who disobeyed and got away with it acted normally - even though they’d done something wrong. Clive Wynne, who teaches psychology at the University of Florida, says that dogs have a remarkable sensitivity to our moods. So, when your dog “looks guilty,” he’s responding to your behavior and trying to get back on friendly terms. Now, if you think that sounds a little too smart for an animal that sniffs other dog’s excrement, consider this: Dogs are better than any other animal at predicting human behavior. In fact, they’re so attuned to us that they can sniff out changes in our health - before we notice any symptoms. In a study done by The Pine Street Foundation in California, our canine friends were successful at detecting lung and breast cancer in patients nine out of 10 times!