Dogs are so good about conning their human companions (aka. owners).
They make maximum use of sad and guilty faces when the human gets upset by some dastardly doggy behaviour. The human is convinced that the dog is genuinely remorseful.
However, Dr Ljerka Ostojic, a psychologist (for dogs or humans?) at the University of Cambridge, has studied the matter and he suggests that ‘the downcast face is just a human-pleasing facade’.
He did a study as follows:
- He asked volunteer humans to train their dogs to not eat a biscuit
- A biscuit was placed within reach of the dog
- After the human left the room the biscuit was either fed to the dog or removed
- When the owner returned, he/she could not discern from the dog’s face if the dog had eaten it
The psychologist believes that the guilty look on dogs stems from distress and not conscience.
In the case of multiple dogs in a household, often it was the most timid dog that looked guilty; it simply got more frightened.