Canine Contrition - It Does Exist  

New2Midlo 52  
722 posts
5/22/2021 11:28 am

Last Read:
6/12/2021 7:49 am

Canine Contrition - It Does Exist

So-called experts have long since held the position that dogs are in capable of feeling guilt or remorse for doing something naughty.
This position was confirmed as recently as January of this year, by the AKC. The stance is and has been that when dogs demonstrate body language typically associated with shame or contrition, it's the result of them cuing in on their owners, who are upset over whatever transgression they committed. Owner discovers shredded pillow, owner gets upset (even to a small degree), knows owner is unhappy about dog's behavior, offers contrite body language. While I agree that's the most typical scenario, it's not always the case.

I've called bullshit on this 'expert opinion' for years, particularly after a situation with a previous dog. Today, I received another data point and call the so-called experts out as morons.

Here's a quick review of my experiences. The first was with my border collie, Isabel, who could recite Pi to 1 places and drive a car. Don't call me a liar; she could dammit. Anyway, when we first rescued her, she suffered from frequent urinary tract infections and would have occasional accidents in the house. My first data point is from one such accident. I was working from home, one day. Isabel was sleeping just outside my office, but not where I could see her. We were alone in the house. From nowhere, she quickly walked into my office and glued herself to my side, her body language screaming 'I love you, Daddy!'. Being Daddy's girl, it wasn't unusual for her to show the most affection to me, but this was over the top. I suspected something was up and went to investigate, finding she'd had an accident. Her body language couldn't have been a response to my reaction to her accident, because I wasn't yet aware of it.

Today, my Sadie offered very similar behavior, but I couldn't figure out why. That is until I got a good look at her. For the second time, she'd decided to roll around in her own shit. Somehow, that I'd missed that little tidbit when she came into the house. Still, she knew what she'd done was being a bad doggie, from the previous time she pulled that move, hence the contrition. Again, body language of contrition offered before I was aware of her transgression.

In both cases, it was clear to the dogs that the behaviors were unwelcome, from reactions to their previous occurrences. Be clear that neither were punished; that's a dumb way to modify a dog's behavior. But there were cues that the dogs picked up on. For example, Sadie got tossed right into a bath. When they repeated the behavior, they knew they did something that didn't make their owner happy.

These were completely different dogs, with dissimilar demeanors. While Isabel was insanely smart and loved her Daddy, but had some behavioral challenges, relative to strangers and was afraid of containers. Sadie is a complete saint and the most even tempered, loving I've ever had, but she's not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

In conclusion, the experts don't know what the fuck they're talking about.

Gratuitous doggie pics below.

New2Midlo 52  
1075 posts
5/22/2021 11:29 am


oral4bothU 59  
953 posts
5/22/2021 12:50 pm

I have 2 large dogs, one is obviously the 'alpha' dog, the other is the follower. When they are outside in the fence, the alpha, lowers her head when I come near. She is 6 yrs. old, I have never yelled or struck her, only rewarded her for her good behavior. The only thing I can figure out is, she is acknowleging that I am the 'leader', that takes care of her.

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