The Revenge of the Dog?

How many times have you decided that your dog behaved ‘badly’ because he was angry with you?  That he wanted to ‘get back’ at you?  That he knew what he had done because he ‘looked guilty’?  Most of us have thought it once or twice.  Even those of us who know better.

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In truth, dogs don’t do ‘revenge’, they don’t do ‘spite’ and they don’t feel guilty for doing things that you didn’t actually catch them doing – or even things that you DO catch them doing.  Placing purely human emotions on a dog is not only wrong, but could mean you are missing the REAL issue.

  • Do you REALLY think that your dog does things with malice aforethought? That is exactly what there would have to be in order for something to be done out of spite.  They would need to reason out that peeing on your bed now is going to upset you at some future time.  Really?  I love dogs and I think they are brilliant, but really?
  • Dogs love poop and pee. When they pee in your shoe or poop on your bed, they don’t think it’s disgusting and have no reason to really think that you would either.  They don’t have any idea that you find it nasty and gross – they most certainly don’t take that knowledge and use it against you.  That is ridiculous.
  • Your wonderful pet is perfect in the house – until you leave him home alone. At that point, according to you, he becomes so angry over the fact that you left and didn’t take him with you that he eats 3 pairs of shoes and the pillow off of your bed.  Obviously he’s mad – he only ate your stuff after all.  Wrong again.  Dogs are pack animals and social creatures.  When left alone, they can often become quite bored and, in some cases, anxious.  Either state of being can result in mayhem and destruction.  Let me see what this shoe tastes like…yummmmmmy. Instant entertainment.  On the other hand, some dogs get anxious alone (separation anxiety).  In their nervous state they seek out familiar smells – such as your shoe or your pillow.  Those two things definitely smell like you and engaging themselves by chewing said items can make the anxiety fade to a certain extent.
  • So you walk in the house, trash is all over the floor and there sits your dog, looking ‘guilty’. Or so you   He doesn’t feel guilty at all.  He knows you’re mad.  He is reacting to your anger.  They aren’t human, but they are considerably more perceptive than we are.  That guilty look is nothing more than an attempt to appease the human who, for whatever reason, is very angry.
  • Which leads to the inevitable argument that even when you walk in the house to garbage on the floor and stay calm and don’t show your anger, the dog still looks guilty thereby proving your point – he knows what he did. Except he doesn’t.  He knows that when there is garbage on the floor and you come home, anger is likely to come home as well.  He has connected garbage on the floor with your anger.  he has not connected his act of getting into the garbage with your anger.  The only way that will happen is if you catch him in the act.

 

Dogs aren’t humans.  To label them as ‘spiteful’, ‘angry’ or ‘guilty’ is, in a word, wrong.  Understand your pet’s behavior for what it is, not what it would be if he were a human dressed in a furry coat.  He’s not.  He’s a dog and deserves to be treated as such.

Has your dog done something that looked like revenge?  Leave your answer in the comment section below.