My dog looks guilty when she has an accident or breaks something in the house; or, my dog looks guilty when she chews up my shoe or a pillow on the couch.
I guess you could fill in the “guilty blank” with your own dog with many things.
But Does Your Dog Really Feel Guilty or Not?
Do you really think your dog is so smart he knows right from wrong? Does he really know it’s wrong to destroy your shoe or the couch pillow but yet he deliberately does it?
If so, then you maybe you also think that he warrants a punishment of some kind.
See if this sounds familiar. You come home and find your good shoes chewed up, you hit your “boiling point” as you search for your dog to point out his transgression. But, truth be told, your dog really can’t figure out why he is being punished.
The reality is, the only association your dog may have with your punishment is your presence. Here’s what I mean: Your dog lives in the moment. Your dog has about a second and a half to associate praise or a correction to something they have done.
Your dog takes a “snapshot” or picture in his mind of that moment: Punishment – mom or dad – living room. The eventual conclusion reached?
It’s not safe in the living room when mom or dad is there – bad things happen.
Let’s Think about this Guilty Look
When you are away from your home what draws your dog to your shoes or the pillow on the couch or the magazine on the coffee table you just read last night?
Could it be that he misses you terribly because of all the love and affection you bestowed on him when you were home?
Could it be that your shoes or the couch pillow or the recently read magazine was saturated with your scent and your dog was trying to have, if not you, then something that he could keep close that was a “symbiotic you” in your absence.
Ah, but you say, “What about the chewing?” More likely than not his chewing was his physical way of dealing with his stress and anxiety. He became frustrated by not being able to do anything with your absence. So your shoes, pillow or magazine sufficed.
Remember These Two Dog Training Tips
- Don’t punish your dog for something he did while you were away.
- Build confidence not insecurity to prevent missing you.
Don’t Punish Your Dog.
This dog training tip only makes sense. Your dog lives in the moment therefore he should learn in the moment. If your dog grabs your shoe, calmly redirect to a doggie chew toy and praise him for chewing on the right thing.
If he tries to play keep-away, then put a leash on him to prevent that game. What have you just learned?
Keep your shoes put away and keep your supervised dog on a leash in the house to begin to prevent unwanted behavior and shape the behavior you prefer – punishment free.
Build Confidence Not Insecurity
You might be thinking, “What does this have to do with chewing my stuff?”
The answer is: A lot! And it’s probably what got you into this predicament in the first place. That’s right, it’s not your dog’s fault. We will, for the time being, overlook the obvious – you left your dog in your house unattended.
Let’s look at what may not be very obvious to you: Too much free love and affection.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Loving your dog is like eating ice cream. Both should be done in moderation; otherwise, they will both wind up biting you in the butt.
It could very well be that too much love and affection has set an expectation (from your dog’s perspective) that you should be loving on and staying in close proximity to him all day. That’s not practical. I know this. You know this.
But your dog doesn’t know this.
Start putting your dog on a “learn-to-earn” program (sit for everything) and do less petting for a while. You will be glad you did and your dog will begin to understand that getting petted is not his right – but a privilege that must be earned.
Let’s talk below – what do you think about this?
Together We Can Raise A Happy and Obedient Dog
Jim Burwell, is Houston’s most respected dog trainer for 30 years, serving over 10,000 clients. Jim takes the science of dog training and shows you how to make it work with your family and dog. He gives you the ability to get the same great behavior from your dog.