The term anthropomorphism refers to the attribution of human traits and emotions to non-human things. This happens in dogs probably more than anything else. Why? Dogs are so close to us and our hearts. No other animal has ingrained itself into the human existence like a dog. For that reason, many people find themselves looking at their DOG, as if it’s a HUMAN. You think that sounds silly? You think possibly even ridiculous? I think you need to observe dog owners a little more objectively if you find the above statement hard to believe. People treat their dogs like their kids. The case is especially bad with toy breeds and small dogs, as people carry them around in bags and baby cradles.
One of the most common human emotion I see and hear of being passed onto dogs is guilt. People constantly claim their dog has a “guilty” look when it has done something wrong. When I say to them that dogs do not express the human emotion of guilt, they close their eyes, cross there arms, and just tune me out. Well, I finally came across an article that is based not on theory, but on scientific, experiment based research. DOGS DO NOT EXPRESS GUILT……
What your dog is showing you is a submissive reaction to a vibe and energy you are projecting. The first moment you begin to become aware to the possibility that your dog has done something wrong, your body and energy change. It doesn’t matter if you have not said a word, after all, audible sound is not one of the top methods of communication for dogs anyway. Your body tension is communicating volumes of information to your dog at that moment. Your dog slumping its head down, looking up at you with what appear to be sad eyes, are all just signs of submission.
A well balanced pet dog will show submission to its owner whenever it perceives tension or aggression. Your stiff neck, concerned look, and forward energy directed to the dog upon your investigation to see what wrongdoing has occurred will all signal submissive responses from the dog. Its not the dog saying “im sorry for what I did”, instead it is the dog saying “OK, you’re the boss, im getting out of your way”. The study in the article demonstrates how it is cues from the human that creates this “guilty” response or look, and that in actuality those responses and looks are also identifiable “submissive” messages that dogs give out when responding to other pack members.
Why shatter yet another rather romantic vision of the beloved family dog?
Isn’t this misconception essentially harmless?
The reason why you should care is simple, its about seeking to better understand this member of your family. The better you understand how a dog thinks and why it behaves the way it does, the better you will be at interacting and communicating with that dog and enjoying a much more fulfilling life together. One of the biggest issues in dog ownership and problems people have with their dogs is miscommunication. This is just one more foggy area that can be cleared up to paint a much better picture of the dog’s thought patterns ultimately helping you build a better bond with your dog. That’s why….and that’s a pretty damn good reason.