Instagram accounts devoted to pet-shaming are wildly popular. Many social media users can’t resist the hilarious sight of a cute but forlorn-looking pooch with a sign around its neck explaining what they have been caught doing. But have you ever stopped to wonder whether dogs can actually feel shame for their misdemeanours?
According to canine expert Stanley Coren, dogs develop the same emotional capacities as a two and a half year old human child. Dogs’ emotional capacities develop quickly, but simply. Coren argues that basic emotions – anger, excitement, fear, joy, shyness, disgust, contentment, and distress – will manifest by the time your pet is six months old.
Whilst feelings of love come within the first year, more complex emotions such as the pride of completing a trick successfully, or shame for chowing down on your favourite shoes, are beyond the scope of our four-legged friends.
Some people would disagree with Coren’s findings and say that they can tell their dog does feel ashamed when they are told off, but Coren would say that what you are seeing is your pet’s fear of punishment. So, even though your pooch may not be able to express the fullest range of emotions that humans can, they are, nonetheless, a responsive, affectionate and loving creature.
If you want to learn more about the behavioural traits of your dog and the factors which influence and alter their conduct, then download our Canine Behaviour Training Course Diploma course today.