Most often than not, we find our little dog’s puppy eyes adorable. May it be for good reason or bad, we tend to melt our hearts out and hug our pets even tighter. But what does it really mean for them?
These adorable creatures tend to give us this famous look when they did something naughty–when they have bitten too much stuff in the living area, when they ate the wrong food, or just simply running around. They know they are in big trouble so they established this irresistible puppy eyes to melt our hearts and forgive them immediately. We incorporate this look as “guilt”, but a study shows it is not.
In 2009, Horowitz, a dog specialist, clarified that it is not guilt that dogs are feeling when they give “the” look, but fear.
One attribution commonly made to dogs is that the “guilty look” shows that dogs feel guilt at doing a disallowed action. Trials varied the opportunity for dogs to disobey an owner’s command not to eat a desirable treat while the owner was out of the room, and varied the owners’ knowledge of what their dogs did in their absence. The results revealed no difference in behaviours associated with the guilty look. By contrast, more such behaviours were seen in trials when owners scolded their dogs. The effect of scolding was more pronounced when the dogs were obedient, not disobedient. These results indicate that a better description of the so-called guilty look is that it is a response to owner cues, rather than that it shows an appreciation of a misdeed.
Despite the absence of enough studies about dogs’ emotions and memories, it is not hard to understand our own pets. They are our own, and they can understand human language. Puppy eyes or just normal eyes, they exist to be loved.