Study Claims That Dogs Don’t Really Feel Shame

Can you find Addie the dog in this picture? Does she look ashamed?
Photo by James Hathaway

A couple summer ago, we posted about a humorous tumblr site called “Dog Shaming,” which has since blossomed into a big, fancy website.

But here’s the thing: Recent studies suggests that dogs don’t really feel shame at all. Alexandra Horowitz, an associate professor of psychology at Barnard College in New York City, conducted one of the first such experiments in 2009.

“I found that the ‘look’ appeared most often when owners scolded their dogs, regardless of whether the dog had disobeyed or did something for which they might or should feel guilty. It wasn’t ‘guilt’ but a reaction to the owner that prompted the look,” Horowitz said.

More recent studies seem to show the same thing.

What do you think?

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3 thoughts on “Study Claims That Dogs Don’t Really Feel Shame”

  1. I agree with Gerda. Our dogs are hiding when they get home. Maybe they don’t feel the shame (but what study could prove that), but they know they did something wrong.

  2. I disagree. I will get the look, the turned head, and the tiptoed exit, long before I have discovered what my lab might have gotten into.

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