I get it. Like you, I have known (and loved) dogs who have massacred pillows, invaded cabinets and made abstract art with toilet paper. I've felt confusion, disbelief, maybe even anger. And then, out of the corner of my eye, I spy the culprit with a downtrodden face, tail thumping on the ground. He knows he's guilty.
The only problem is, it's not what it seems. We're duped. By ourselves.
Here's why: A dog owner often assumes that the dog, let's call him Moose, has misbehaved despite knowing the rules of the house. And Moose's post-screw up behavior, in which he "fesses up" with those big, sad eyes, only confirms that he knows he did something wrong.
We can all describe the infamous Guilty Look. When I asked owners to describe their dogs' guilty looks, their answers were similar: dogs look away and avert their gaze; some approach, low and slow; others freeze; others move away. Some roll onto their back and for many, the ears go back and the tail can't stop thumping. And if you look closely, many will lift a paw.