My Dog Looks Guilty !

My Dog Knows He's Been Bad!

Dear Gwen,

It started happening just once a month or so. Before I knew it, this event was occurring twice a week. It is now a daily event. I come home from work and Rover is slinking around looking guilty. Just as I suspected! Rover has ripped up the morning newspaper again. I furiously march over to the mess; I sternly point to the evidence demanding to know, "FOR THE TENTH TIME, WHAT IS THIS??!!" Inside I'm wondering if Rover is feeling neglected. Is he being spiteful or is he just stupid? Am I being an insensitive owner? I feel angry and guilty. Just what is Rover thinking anyway?

signed, Frustrated Fred

Dear Fred,

Your dog is probably thinking: "Oh no, the owner is having another fit! I wish he would see a doctor about his lapse of memory. Perhaps there is no medical problem, maybe he is just stupid. It used to be just once a month that he would forget what the newspaper is. Now it's daily. I wish I could speak human so I could tell him it's only the newspaper. I wonder what he thinks it is. I wonder why he is so upset? I feel sorry for him but I feel frightened that he is yelling at me. I even have to slink around to dodge the verbal bullets."

The above scenario is a common occurrence. The owner and dog are completely misunderstanding each other. Because the dog is slinking and looking guilty we feel he must know he shouldn't have shredded the paper. The dog's body language is actually showing he is frightened and submissive. He really is "ducking" to avoid punishment. He may indeed know you are angry about the newspaper, but what about the newspaper? Are the bits and pieces not small enough? Are they not scattered randomly enough? Is the job not done well enough?

Whatever the dog is thinking you are mad about, it is not for the act of chewing because that is not what he was doing when you scolded him. In order for him to know you are mad about chewing the paper, he must be caught in the act of chewing. But don't you think that an easier solution is to simply put the paper out of reach before you leave?

My Dog Looks Guilty !

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