Is my dog sorry he chewed up my furniture?

My dog chewed up the furniture or peed on the carpet or ate my shoes while I was gone. When I got home, he looked sorry. Is he sorry?

No, your dog is not sorry he was bad while you were gone. He most likely looks sorry because he knows you are mad, even though he doesn’t know why. Either:

  1. You always yell at him when you get home, so he’s anticipating that you are going to yell. He looks sorry because he’s trying to appease you and get through this part as quickly as possible.
  2. You immediately noticed the problem and already look mad. So he knows you are angry, but probably has no idea why, but he wants to appease you.

Even if you show your dog the damage they’ve done or rub their nose in it, they will not associate their past behavior with your anger. You must catch them in the act in order to correct it. The best option for a dog that misbehaves while you are gone is to not give them any options to get in trouble. Either remove the problem objects or crate your dog.

For more insight into how your dog thinks, check out Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson, a great book on how dogs think and how that should effect how we train them. You can also listen to it for free with an Audible trial.

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