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This seems to be a common belief on another forum. What's the opinion of people here? Personally I don't know! This is one thing I haven't been able to decide on.
 

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I think it depends. If they are sure of a command and refuse to do it, it could be that they know they've "been bad", although I doubt they think of it in those terms. I would say 95% of the time, if a dog performs an unwanted behavior, it's because they don't know it's unwanted.

What particular behavior are we talking about here?
 

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Dogs know when WE think they've been bad, and they are extremely sensitive to it (even if we don't yell or otherwise carry on.) I believe they have no idea what we're upset about, but people are fond or interpreting THAT look as "guilt."
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ummm it seems to be pretty much for anything, not comng when called, chewing, piddling etc in the house.
 

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Then I would say that they don't know. Most likely, they're reacting to some sort of punishment (scolding, etc).
 

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we all know my opinion on the matter and i don't think we're ready for another long, "heated" debate on it....i do believe it has been discussed b/4 and my opinion still hasn't changed....but, then, a lot of people don't think i play w/ a full deck and am "dog obsessed", also.....:rolleyes:
 

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My dogs seem to "know" when they've done something bad, or at least they know they've done something that usually gets an unfavorable response from us humans.

When we've been out of the house for a bit, if something is left out on the kitchen counter within reach of our lab she will inevitably take it and then she and our GSD mix will eat whatever it was, leaving the packaging. The strange thing is when we get home neither of them is at the door to greet us. They will slowly walk into our front room to eventually greet us, but their heads are down and they are not thrilled about us being home like they normally are. Their behavior gives them away before we even see the evidence of their misdeeds!
 

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When you catch them in the act of something bad ? Of course , at least mine does . You can tell by his face and body language that he knows he shouldn't have been doing what he was doing .


This seems to be a common belief on another forum. What's the opinion of people here? Personally I don't know! This is one thing I haven't been able to decide on.
 

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I'm with RonE on this one. I don't think dogs neccesarily know that they've been bad, if they had that sort of reasoning ability training would be much faster and easier. I think they are just extremely sensitive to their people and when they do something we don't want them to do they know it by the way we react.
 

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I have no doubt mine know when they've done something that I won't like. A perfect example is last night; I was cleaning the fridge and took out the bottom drawers to wash under them. One had chicken quarters and beef hearts (dog food) in it. Well, I finished cleaning and put everything back together. I then noticed that Artemis was hiding in a corner with big round eyes. I looked around trying to figure out what happened. By her expression I knew something was up. It was then that I noticed a beef heart on the floor by the stairs. :rolleyes:
Artie had snatched some food from the drawer while my back was turned. I wouldn't have noticed a thing except her 'guilty' behavior gave her away. Oh and of course the beef heart too. :p

Jihad
and the pound puppy crew.
 

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I agree with Ron. Mine definitely know when *I* think they've been bad, because I give off body signals and even chemicals from my body when I am upset (all humans do). When a dog senses that you are upset and know there have been consequences for this in the past, they start acting "guilty," groveling on the ground, wagging the tail like a puppy or even tucking it under their bodies, licking their lips, yawning, hunching their bodies or putting themselves close to the floor, or even rolling over and showing their bellies.

As guilty as it looks though, they are just showing appeasement gestures (or calming signals) in an attempt to calm US down so that we don't punish them. So really, I don't believe they know that what they did was "bad" but definitely that we were upset by it (IF they were caught in the act). I think dogs are innocent creatures, and so if they KNEW that something was "wrong" then they wouldn't do it. I think with dogs it goes more by what is "safe" and "not safe" to do.
 

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Dogs know when WE think they've been bad, and they are extremely sensitive to it (even if we don't yell or otherwise carry on.) I believe they have no idea what we're upset about, but people are fond or interpreting THAT look as "guilt."
Exactly. The best training experiment I've seen to represent this was with a dog who got into the trash every day and scattered about the floor. One day, the trainer dumped the trash all over the floor before she left. When she returned home, the dog cowered and put his tail between his leg. "Guilty" of something he never did.
 

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I kind of think my dogs know when they've been "bad"...but it doesn't make any difference. They don't have the capacity to think BEFORE they do something that it might be a bad thing to do and maybe they shouldn't do it. Just enough capacity to realize after the fact that maybe it wasn't a great idea.

And I do think that for humans to believe that their dog "know what he did is wrong" is destructive, leading to many incidences of animal abuse. So I'd rather not say that, yes, dogs know what they did was wrong, because people would take that the wrong way. Because even if they do know, it doesn't matter.
 

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I don't believe dogs have any sense of "bad" or of "guilt."

They do learn what we like and what we don't like - what will result in reward and, depending on our training philosophy, what might result in punishment.

A dog who craps in the living room probably has no clue, even if he's trained, why that would be "bad" or "wrong" - only that it makes his human companion unhappy and so, maybe, should be avoided.

The black lab that I talk about all the time did only three spectacularly "bad" things in his life. Since he did each of them only once (though I retell the stories all the time) he had never been trained not to do them and could almost certainly not imagine why I was upset when he did them.
 

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I certainly cannot speak for other peoples dogs but I can say that my dogs know. My dogs KNOW and just do NOT care. LOL Bad is a relative term anyway. Who is IT bad for? Chewing up the dog bed was bad for me but a great time for Carsten. :)
 

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I agree with Ron. Mine definitely know when *I* think they've been bad, because I give off body signals and even chemicals from my body when I am upset (all humans do).
Chemicals?

:eek:

So when I'm upset - I'm waging chemical warfare as well? :D

I kind of think my dogs know when they've been "bad"...but it doesn't make any difference. They don't have the capacity to think BEFORE they do something that it might be a bad thing to do and maybe they shouldn't do it. Just enough capacity to realize after the fact that maybe it wasn't a great idea.
This is my feeling. Action -> Consequence. If the action leads them to expect a negative consequence, they probably can link the two just like they can link the click of a clicker towards expecting a reward. If they can do it for the positive, why not the negatative?

They don't know, in advance, in most cases - though, it does make me wonder, again, that they can for the positive. If I reward a dog for barking consistently, he'll bark in hopes of a reward. If I beat a dog whenever he makes any sound, wouldn't I turn him basically mute - at least in my presence? Wouldn't that be an indication of simple forethought before taking an action? I.e - he sees me, remembers barking around me = beating, so he won't bark?
 

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Chemicals?

:eek:

So when I'm upset - I'm waging chemical warfare as well? :D
LOL sure! Stuff like adrenaline. I'm sure there are more than just that one, but adrenaline comes to mind as maybe something they might pick up on.
 
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