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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
And do dogs remember something they're done that they know is wrong?

We've all had our run in with dogs that have chewed things up that they shouldn't have. They been corrected "in the act" maybe more than once. And after the second or third time they know they shouldn't be chewing on something which they've been corrected for - yet some dogs continue to do just that.

So here's the scenario - you come home and find a book on the floor which has been chewed by your little angle. The dog has been corrected previously for chewing on the same book more than once. You walk in on him and there's the book on the floor again and it's obvious that it's been chewed on but the dog is not chewing on it at the moment you walk in. And what do you get from the dog...

"THE LOOK" ...we've all seen the look that has got guilt written all over it - it sure seems that he knows he's done something WRONG even though at the moment he's away from the book. Of course you don't scold or correct him because he's not in the act of doing the wrong behavior. But don't you think he knows exactly what he's done wrong and that's what his facial expression is showing? You wouldn't get the THE LOOK if you came into the room and he hadn't done anything wrong - right?

So why is it if you were to hold the book up to him and say "bad dog" he wouldn't recognize exactly what he was being corrected for? After all dogs do have a memory, they're able to remember several different commands, hand, verbal etc...

If the dog doesn't understand he's done something wrong, chewing up the book, why then do we get the "LOOK"?

Now please don't get me wrong I'd never correct a dog I didn't catch in the act just because this is the way I've always done it and it seems to work as I've never had a problem dog, KNOCK ON WOOD.

So may final question is don't you think your dog is intelligent enough to recognize what he's done wrong and remember it?

Pete



 

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I wonder the same thing everytime I go into the bedroom and see that my sweet little boy Austin has so kindly emptied my garbage can for me!!!! I'm looking forward to seeing the responses on this.....
 

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That is a very good question...

We recently brought MacKenize as a puppy into our family, and Brady, who is three, suddenly is the best behaved dog. When we sees her doing anything wrong, he comes to us and looks at her, as if to say "I cannot believe she is doing that...what are you going to do?"
 

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While they are intelligent - perhaps sometimes approaching that of 3-4 yr old - their concept of time is soooooooooooooooo different. If the book is in the mouth then "UH-OH I'm busted" appears. But if the book is on the floor a little worse for wear and they are laying somewhere else then the book has no meaning because it's not in the NOW time wise. Within a few minutes perhaps, but anything beyond that no way - they've gone on to whatever else grabbed their attention.
 

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I think maybe they do! One time, we left Molly alone for a few hours and when we came back, she just gave us that look, head and ears real low, but with her tail wagging because she was so happy to see us! Then we thought ''Uh oh! What did you do?!'' :p: Then we found a shoe on her blanket, a little chewed up! And she has been corrected a few times before that!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
While they are intelligent - perhaps sometimes approaching that of 3-4 yr old - their concept of time is soooooooooooooooo different. If the book is in the mouth then "UH-OH I'm busted" appears. But if the book is on the floor a little worse for wear and they are laying somewhere else then the book has no meaning because it's not in the NOW time wise. Within a few minutes perhaps, but anything beyond that no way - they've gone on to whatever else grabbed their attention.
This is what I've heard sharlin, "the now time", but then why the look with the head down and wagging tail being caught after the act?

I think maybe they do! One time, we left Molly alone for a few hours and when we came back, she just gave us that look, head and ears real low, but with her tail wagging because she was so happy to see us! Then we thought ''Uh oh! What did you do?!'' :p: Then we found a shoe on her blanket, a little chewed up! And she has been corrected a few times before that!
EvilNessCroft, exactly my point. You know they've done something even before you know what it because of the way they behave. If they only live in the "now time" why do we see this behavior often times well after the crime ;) has been commited?

Pete
 

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I think they do know when they do wrong. Because they will give me the look when I catch them doing something wrong even if I dont say anything. Or they will walk away holding their head down, like I am sorry.
 

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I am from the "no they don't" camp. I do not think they know right from wrong but they do LEARN what makes you happy and what makes you not so happy! Mainly because when they make you happy you let them know you are happy and when they make you not so happy you also let them know that. That is what if you do not correct at the time of the "wrong" doing they have no idea why you are actually wrong but will assume whatever they are doing at thte moment you convey that unhappiness is the cause of your displeasure and not the actual "wrong" doing. So in Sharlin's example of later finding the book a little worse for wear if the dog was then saying sitting on a chair (assuming that is okay behavior) then the dog may think the displeasure is because it is on the chair and not what it did to the book.
Hope that makes sense.
 

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This is what I've heard sharlin, "the now time", but then why the look with the head down and wagging tail being caught after the act?



EvilNessCroft, exactly my point. You know they've done something even before you know what it because of the way they behave. If they only live in the "now time" why do we see this behavior often times well after the crime ;) has been commited?

Pete
Don't forget they are EXTREMELY keen on body posture and tone - it's hardwired. I believe they know what is acceptable and not acceptable behaviour but not right vs wrong. Otherwise we would be saying that everytime they did something wrong they had planned it knowing so. I don't believe they sit there thinking "hmmmmm - I'm bored today, I'm gonna chew up the toliet paper roll" They're bored, they pass the toliet paper roll, and WHAM - confetti!!
 

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No. They don't understand concepts of right and work. They understand "works" and "doesn't work". Many dogs learn that chewing things in the absence of the owner "works". Why? B/c you aren't there to interrupt/reprimand, etc. when they are chewing.

The "look" comes from a dog learning to read your body language. They're great at that. I gaurantee that when you come home and see the chewed book, your facial expression and body language is broadcasting that you're unhappy... and the dog understands THAT. Even if you aren't outwardly angry, there's something subtle that happens when you first spot the chewed item. Dogs are MASTERS at reading the smallest, most subtle of body/facial gestures. BUT, he's unable to connect it with the fact that 2 hours ago, when he chewed the book, THAT was the act that ultimated resulted in your "angry face".
 

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I think they learn right and wrong from us.

We take them from a world of instinct and bring them into our world. They still have the instinct but we train them to do things and feel things more along the lines of how we feel them.

I think they know good behavior from bad based on our reactions and our training so in a way they do know positive and negative responses – a good or bad reaction.

Do they feel it or would it be define as we define it – probably not.

Putting my human emotions on it they feel.

I’ve seen a dog grieve, be happy, be sad, be calculated and sneaky, learn pattern, and teach himself how to do things. They are intelligent animals – to define emotions they have on our human scale I think overlooks that fact.

My dogs are able to since emotion from a human and know what that person is feeling/intent and or if they are dangerous. They are a bit more evolved than we give them credit for.

And babies learn everything as well – they do not know right from wrong or good and bad…it’s a taught behavior. A mom dog corrects a puppy – that is teaching right wrong and good and bad on some level.
 

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We have one dog that "tells" on the other dog ..he is only 6 mos. older.. but he is a tattle tale. No one would believe us..if they have not seen it for themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I am from the "no they don't" camp. I do not think they know right from wrong but they do LEARN what makes you happy and what makes you not so happy! Mainly because when they make you happy you let them know you are happy and when they make you not so happy you also let them know that. That is what if you do not correct at the time of the "wrong" doing they have no idea why you are actually wrong but will assume whatever they are doing at thte moment you convey that unhappiness is the cause of your displeasure and not the actual "wrong" doing. So in Sharlin's example of later finding the book a little worse for wear if the dog was then saying sitting on a chair (assuming that is okay behavior) then the dog may think the displeasure is because it is on the chair and not what it did to the book.
Hope that makes sense.
I see what you are saying, the sitting in the chair becomes what he thinks he has done wrong analogy, but my question is still unanswered. If it's okay to sit in the chair and the dog has done nothing wrong when you walk in you'll get the normal happy greeting BUT if the dog has done something wrong, chewing up the book for example, that same dog sitting in the chair is very likely to have "the look of guilt" when you walk in instead of the happy go lucky look if he hadn't done something wrong. If you hold up the chewed up book and show it to the dog and give him a nooooooo it would seem to me that he knows what you're upset about.

Pete

 

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i think they know right from wrong as Shelley gives me the look a soon as i walk out the door, I don't even get the chance to see if theres a hole dug, i already know by the look Shelley gives me. Her head is down low,her ears down low,shes in a sit position and sad looking eyes that say i'm sorry. She does know digging makes me unhappy but she can't help herself and continues to do it. I've seen a behavourist they said the adrenalin levels my dog has is what is causing her to dig,they said having her inside wouldn't help as she would then chew things up.

Shelley is intelligent and can be sneaky about things, one time i was at the oval there was another dog on the other side of the oval. Well there were birds in the middle of the oval and Shelley loves to chase birds. Well she made out she was chasing the birds and then kept runing towards the other dog.
 

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We have one dog that "tells" on the other dog ..he is only 6 mos. older.. but he is a tattle tale. No one would believe us..if they have not seen it for themselves.
too cute.

My Noah will alert me when Scout is dirty or stinky...because Noah cannot have a dirty and stinky puppy around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Don't forget they are EXTREMELY keen on body posture and tone - it's hardwired. I believe they know what is acceptable and not acceptable behaviour but not right vs wrong. Otherwise we would be saying that everytime they did something wrong they had planned it knowing so. I don't believe they sit there thinking "hmmmmm - I'm bored today, I'm gonna chew up the toliet paper roll" They're bored, they pass the toliet paper roll, and WHAM - confetti!!
No. They don't understand concepts of right and work. They understand "works" and "doesn't work". Many dogs learn that chewing things in the absence of the owner "works". Why? B/c you aren't there to interrupt/reprimand, etc. when they are chewing.

The "look" comes from a dog learning to read your body language. They're great at that. I gaurantee that when you come home and see the chewed book, your facial expression and body language is broadcasting that you're unhappy... and the dog understands THAT. Even if you aren't outwardly angry, there's something subtle that happens when you first spot the chewed item. Dogs are MASTERS at reading the smallest, most subtle of body/facial gestures. BUT, he's unable to connect it with the fact that 2 hours ago, when he chewed the book, THAT was the act that ultimated resulted in your "angry face".


Okay I agree the dogs are very adept at reading your body language so if you walk in the room and see the chewed up book before you say anything the dog knows he's in trouble.
But, like EvilNessCroft pointed out, you come home and have no idea he's done anything wrong, so there's no negative body language for the dog to pick up on, yet the dog still shows all the signs of having done something wrong and it's only then that you suspect something is up. And generally there is something up ;).

Pete

 

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But, like EvilNessCroft pointed out, you come home and have no idea he's done anything wrong, so there's no negative body language for the dog to pick up on, yet the dog still shows all the signs of having done something wrong and it's only then that you suspect something is up. And generally there is something up ;).
Likely it's because the dog has learned that you coming in the door predicts your unhappy body language. The pattern becomes: human enters > (sees problem) > body language reacts accordingly. This sequence cues the dog's appeasing gesture that we interpret to as "guilt". So for the dog, the human entering the door is what sets off the chain of events. Dogs are masters at chaining together pieces of an event, so they begin to offer appeasing gestures at the first link in the chain --- the entrance of the human.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I knew you were going to say that Stephanie :doh: but if that were true every time you walked in the door the dog would have the same reaction and I don't think they do...I'll bet there are a lot viewers reading this that are nodding their heads saying yes I've seen this in my dog too. And the only time they get the head down and tail wagging is when the dog has actually done something wrong but not all the time.

I don't think we give them enough credit - I think they're more aware than what we give them credit for.

Pete
 

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I see what you are saying, the sitting in the chair becomes what he thinks he has done wrong analogy, but my question is still unanswered. If it's okay to sit in the chair and the dog has done nothing wrong when you walk in you'll get the normal happy greeting BUT if the dog has done something wrong, chewing up the book for example, that same dog sitting in the chair is very likely to have "the look of guilt" when you walk in instead of the happy go lucky look if he hadn't done something wrong. If you hold up the chewed up book and show it to the dog and give him a nooooooo it would seem to me that he knows what you're upset about.

Pete
I think they learn what might elicit a bad reaction from you, and that "guilty" look is their attempt to appease you. It's anxiety that's paired with a situation that gets them in trouble.

I really don't think they understand it as "wrong." I do think that smart dogs can often make the connection that a torn up book, etc. might mean "I'm about to be in trouble." It's quite a different thing, though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So Tippy does the smart dog realize that he's done something which his owner deems as unsuitable when he chews up the book even if he's in the chair when he's corrected?

Pete
 
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