“Guilty Dog” Viral Video

Have you seen it, the viral video of a “guilty” dog? A yellow lab sits hunched in a corner while his owner asks if he’s the one who got into the bag of kitty treats. The dog turns his head away, squints his eyes (not in a happy way I would argue) and after considerable prompting (or pressure), looks “guilty.” Except, the “guilty” look is actually a perfect example of what is called a “submissive grin,” used to appease another higher status individual. Most biologists call this an example of “active submission,” in which an animal is attempting to increase the distance between it and another member of its social unit. (Versus “passive submission” which promotes a decrease in distance; for example, lying down and exposing the anal/genital regions.)

I know that “submission” is not a popular term at the moment, but whether you call it appeasement or submission, surely it’s clear that the dog’s expression has nothing to do with guilt. (I first capitalized “nothing” but then changed it because it looked like I was yelling.  But okay, honestly, I was.)

Is it just me? Am I just being finicky, but I can’t even watch this video to the end. Have you seen it? I’m so curious to hear what you think. Here it is:

MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Spring!  I have to cherish it in small, tiny moments, but they are exquisite ones. I can’t find the words to express what it feels like to see color after a long winter of black, brown and white. And Spot had her lamb, a beautiful, white ewe lamb. (But just a single? Jeez, Spot, you are fat as a tick! I was sure there were at least 2 in there, and now I see you’re just fat!)

Here’s some oh-so-welcome color:

Comments

  1. says

    I couldn’t finish watching it either. It bothered me a lot, both for the poor dogs, and for the fact that it’s being seen as “guilt” when it obviously isn’t anything of the sort.

  2. Sue says

    I’d call it dog abuse – perhaps the dumb guy human should hit himself in the head with a newspaper for leaving the treat bag where “someone” could get to it!

  3. Jeff Line says

    I looked carefully and the dog sent to the kennel had no thumbs. I blame the primate with the thumbs for the consumption of the high value treats.

    The video makes me so uncomfortable I can’t start to parse the messages the dog is sending. I’m guessing there has been some P+ training in that dog’s life.

  4. Kat says

    I saw this video awhile back and was frankly disgusted that the owner was such a bully–I can’t think of any other way to describe his pressuring the dog until he got the “guilty” look. I’d feel horrible if Ranger ever looked at me that way, I certainly wouldn’t be documenting it and posting it for the world to look at. Sometimes the ignorance of people astounds me.

  5. says

    Following up to my own post–sorry. I should have mentioned that the rebuttal video also is very hard to watch, since we see not one but two dogs reacting miserably to scolding or threatening tones. But at least it attempts to get the message across about the behavior.

  6. Emily in IL says

    I had only heard about that video – but without knowing that dogs specific behaviors, I can say that I wouldn’t want to be the one getting closer to him. Sure, there’s no growling, but you can tell that that grimmace is NOT a happy one… I wonder how long it’s going to take for some numbskull to get hurt trying to duplicate this?

  7. Beckmann says

    Personally, when I first time saw this and another one with Husky saying ‘I love you’, I did not like them so much. I am not a professional but even for my eyes both dogs are displaying so many calming signals…
    I know the both dogs got so popular and even Denver and his family went to Good Morning America? or something because of this video.
    Of course we can have a lots of fun with our dogs but the rule is ‘as long as the dog is really enjoing with us’.
    Just an opinion.

  8. says

    Poor dog!! and what a pushy owner…
    I wouldn’t get my hand any closer, though, she’s reaaallyy uncomfortable.
    There’s people that doesn’t deserve such sweet dogs

  9. Frances says

    I thought it was just me – everyone was going on about how funny it was, but I turned the video off half way through because to me the dog was so obviously uncomfortable. Thanks – I thought perhaps I was just being super sensitive.

    Spring is here too – patches of wild primroses, banks of celandines and wood anemones, and a veil of green over the trees and hedges. Wonderful how every year it comes as a lovely surprise!

  10. says

    I can’t watch it to the end either. My alpha Poodle is incapable of guilt even if I know she was the one who did it. Whatever she does, she has thought through and there is no reason for guilt. After all, I was the one who left the trash sack (or whatever) out.

    Another dog will look guilty for things that happened even before she came to live with us.

  11. says

    You don’t want to finish it. The guy sends the “guilty” dog to it’s kennel for punishment. I’d bet the dog really dosen’t even know why at this point.

  12. Sarah says

    It’s certainly not just you; this video breaks my heart. The only good thing for me is that everyone who’s told me about it has seen it the same way–no one has sent it along as funny.

    But spring! There are lilacs on one side and wisteria on another and I can just walk outside to breathe it in.

  13. Mikey's mom says

    Yeah, I couldn’t watch it either. It just seemed cruel to me that they kept with it even though the dog was trying every appeasement there is.

  14. says

    Makes you wonder how the poor dog was housebroken, doesn’t it?

    Look at the little scared, submissive wag from the cornered Lab as the guy approaches. That’s what makes it hard for me to watch, thinking about what this guy might have done to his dogs in the past.

  15. says

    That poor lab. His reaction gives me the impression that he is highly distressed at his owner’s confusing behavior. And he looks so GLAD to get out of the room as soon as his owner backs off.

  16. Dan says

    I’m 100% with you–I cringed while watching this video. It never ceases to amaze me how readily people misinterpret the clear signals dogs give us. Sure, it takes a little effort to learn their body language, but it’s practically essential to owning and raising a dog. It’s like having a child who’s deaf and never bothering to learn sign language.

  17. says

    I saw this video a few weeks ago and thought it was terrible. I just watched it again and was slightly less disturbed this time since I was ready for it. But obviously the dog is distressed and it’s sad that the person that made the video is either unaware or unconcerned with what they are doing to their dog.

  18. carla karr says

    I saw that video on TV and it broke my heart. It’s video’s like this that perpetuate a lot of the myths out there about how dogs behave and feel. I especially got upset when I heard the audience laughing at that poor soul. As I said, it broke my heart.

  19. says

    I haven’t seen the whole thing. It made me uncomfortable. I know sometimes dog body language is so subtle its hard to catch unless you’ve been trained but this is obvious. I feel bad for that dog.

  20. kecks says

    very unhappy dog, stuck in between appeasment and growling (for a lack of a better term…) i wouldn’t want to get any closer. owner is bullying her into that behaviour just for a stupid video… poor girl.

  21. Lori D. says

    This video was sent to me by several people who thought it was cute. I, too, found it too painful to watch until the end!

  22. Tracy says

    Oh, I’m so glad you brought up this video! I saw it last week posted on Facebook and I immediately thought, “I hope Trisha comments on this at some point.” The comments posted were all “LOL” and “how cute!” Mine was “someone is lucky they didn’t get their face bitten off.” I was so uncomfortable watching it. The guy just went ON and ON, and it seems pretty clear to me that the dog had been punished before for similar things. I did find it interesting that the other dog, the older one, did not react at all. Hm.

    I really don’t understand how anyone could think that was adorable. Poor Denver.

  23. Alexandra says

    I didn’t like the video, either. It has made me really uncomfortable having to listen to various co-workers talk about how funny it is, then watch their eyes glaze over when I tried to explain dog behavior. I also felt extremely annoyed at how it’s perpetuating the myth that dogs can feel guilty over destroying something while you were gone.

  24. says

    Makes me cringe almost as much as that dog! I am worried that if his signals continue to be ignored, and he continues to be cornered in similar situations, he may wind up feeling like he has to protect himself.

    Spring, glorious spring! The dogwoods here are in full lacy splendor…and best enjoyed while walking a dog! ;)

  25. says

    I saw the GMA showing of the video and the great interview with the clueless owners and was less than pleased. I felt at best GMA was irresponsible in reporting this as the cuties everyone wants to see it story, and blew a great opportunity for some owner education-and possible future bite prevention.
    I cannot watch the video because it makes my blood boil and seriously you should have kept nothing not only in caps but really bold, italic and underlined!
    Thank you for piping up!
    R

  26. megan says

    Honestly, the first time I saw this video on the news…I couldn’t believe it. My first thought was “are these people nuts? This isn’t funny.” People don’t realize that a dog’s body language is completely different from ours. I feel for the poor dog. Then he blames the old dog for “letting it happen”. Honestly, buddy, you shouldn’t have left the treats where the dog could get them.

  27. says

    I thought I was the only one who was uncomfortable watching this. I felt like the dog thought “oh, no I’m being punished again.” If I did that to my dogs, because even when bad, they have never known harsh punishment, they would have looked proud and excited that I was home and not cowering. I just got a bad feeling about the video and did not find it funny.

  28. says

    I love the internet, youtube, facebook are great for a behaviourist who lives in Australia and gets to communciate daily with overseas colleagues BUT……… I dispare at the animal related material that gets posted and ends up on main stream media totally misunderstood. I have no idea how we get the right message out there with all that gets said by people who have no traning. I say things like this dog wasn’t acting guility it was submission and get howled down because the bulk of joe public and our tv presenters (morning tv hosts) say othewise. The rest of the animal community in Australia also says nothing, including those who do know. Makes me want to chose another career sometimes.

    Regards Louise Kerr

  29. says

    I stand by my usual comment on things like this:
    “Your dog isn’t sorry, he’s wondering why you’re so unstable.”

    What is so hard for people to understand about the fact that the only way for a dog to interpret an owner coming home and being mad out of the blue (we see a garbage can strewn about the house, they see random acts of crazy) is that their owner is unpredictable and unstable?

  30. Jeanne says

    It pained me to watch the little of the video that I did. When they were on Good Morning America and played the video I had to change the channel.. but checked back to see how the interview went… that didn’t make me feel any better.

    Thanks for the follow up pic, btw. Crocus?

    I planted some crocus about 10 years ago… some of them still come up. I don’t know what it is, but there certainly is something that makes me feel so renewed every year when I see them. I’m going to have to plant more…..many,many more.

  31. Dagmar says

    That was sickening. My dogs are ecstatic when I come home, not cringing. If they’d gotten into anything, it would be MY fault for making it available to them. And going to their kennel is NEVER a punishment! Although that poor dog probably is happy to go to her refuge & safe place to get away from this unfathomable human.

  32. Adria says

    It drove me nuts- especially when they started espousing the wonders of guilty looking dogs on GMA- and even brought in the owners and the dogs. Usually they have fairly good animal segments, but this really bothered me.

  33. cheyenne mcafee says

    i found it very uncomfortable to watch. the dog was making all kinds of submissive signals and it had nothing to do with guilt. people sent it to me as something funny but i found it sad…..

  34. trisha says

    Heartening to read how many people are out there who can read a dog! And… I want a dog named Smooch, and yes, the flower is a crocus and it is not possible to have too many of them. Right now I have about 150 daffodils blooming and it is but a pittance compared to what I want! (But don’t be greedy Trisha….)

  35. Denise says

    I’m so glad to read everyone’s response. So many people I know liked this video and I thought I was being oversensitive. This video really bothered me. The dog is clearly distressed.

  36. Nancy says

    I wanted to yell at that owner.. “Alright, already!!!!” Couldn’t make it to the end. Wanted to put the owner in a crate…………………..and cover it!

  37. Rusty says

    This dumb video was made even dumber with the (lonely) piano and harmonica droning. I don’t know which I disliked more, the pea-brained human or the music. No, those are not happy dogs.

  38. The Learning Vet says

    I guess I differ from most of the other commenters. I just saw it as an excellent example of a submissive grin and didn’t read much more into it. I occasionally see dogs in practice who do the same thing, and I don’t necessarily conclude that there’s been any kind of mistreatment. I think some dogs just display this behavior more prominently than others.

  39. says

    Seems to me that the whole world has seen it, and, sadly, many people think it’s cute or funny. It is sad how little most people still understand dogs.

  40. Teri says

    Count me among those disturbed by this video. I do admit to a split second of laughter when the camera first panned to the dog but then found the obvious discomfort of the dog and the calming signals to be quite upsetting :o(.

  41. says

    I think this is a perfect example of how many pet owners express human attributes to their dogs, and it’s actually hurting the dog-owner relationship. And what irritated me even more was how Good Morning America continued to call the dog “guilty” throughout their entire piece, they’re just as guilty (no pun intended) of anthropomorphism as the rest of them! I couldn’t blog about this fast enough to my clients (pet owners) to explain what is actually going on in the video and I’m so happy to find that others agree with me. It’s hard enough for many dog owners to properly understand their dogs…and things like this only make it more difficult.

  42. deborah ryan says

    Sad, just Sad, poor dog. I saw the GMA interview, neither dog looked all that comfortable or happy. My first thought was another idiot video promoting incorrect information… But then again, why not use {kidnap} this video as a teaching tool, My neighbor saw the video, said “look this dog does just what Maggie does” Not. Her Maggie greets me by sitting and giving me goofy grin face and squinty eye, hard for her to contain her full body wiggles. The video of Denver did not show a happy dog, what I saw was a dog trying really hard to communicate appeasement to a bullheaded human…. Not funny. Sad.

  43. Lumi says

    I never knew how little people undertand dogs before this video came out and became so popular. My heart is a lot lighter, though, after reading all these comments. At least some people understand and care. <3

  44. Cara says

    Personally, I think the dog looks like he really kind of HATES his person. And it doesn’t sound like the person has all that much affection for his dogs. Sad.

  45. Lucia says

    That was very unpleasant. So rude and agressive of the so called master.
    The first dog looks scared and sort of confused to me. She made me feel so sad and angry, poor thing…

    The second dog seems shouting *Leave Me Alone! Stay away from me!* (I’m tempted to use caps here too).
    I am surprised by the fact this person does not worry at a certain point…
    Am I wrong or that was close?

    I would like to know if you think the second dog could have reacted if the bullying had continued.
    Maybe the dog is more sensible than his owner, in the end.
    Lucia
    p.s.
    To me both dogs don’t seem pleased to see him approaching… I would not want to be looked like that by my dogs. One very scared and the other on the verge to react. I might be wrong… I feel sad.
    p.p.s
    Crocus, I think! :) beautiful :)

  46. trisha says

    To Learning Vet: I do agree it’s a great example of a submissive grin, which I agree is not in itself a sign of a stressed or anxious dog, but in this case it continues on and on, and the dog makes many other signs I interpret as attempts to get the owner to either stop or go away. That’s why it makes me so uncomfortable. Usually I’ve seen this expression last perhaps one second or two at most (and usually in Labs… is that just coincidence, or do others see it often in other breeds? I’m not saying it never occurs in other breeds, just seem especially common in them.)

  47. Debra says

    and the irony is the guy thinks by speaking with a soft voice that he is being kind. Also, why bother the older dog? Certainly neither dog knows why the owner is standing over them and bullying.

  48. says

    I started to watch the video and it upset me. I argued with people on facebook that this has nothing to do with guilt and the only guilty party is the @#$%!! filming and talking. I would be upset if I ever caused this reaction in my dog.

  49. Mariele says

    My heart is always delighted to hear that a dog (or cat)has found a forever home…until I consider the idiots who adopt them.

  50. Julie says

    I felt bad for the dog personally. Kind of like he was being bullied or something. I don’t want to say the guy abuses his dogs or treats them poorly. We don’t know this to be true, but I would think that the tone of voice he’s using is not one the dog appreciates or is comfortable with.

    I did have a bc/lab cross ‘smile’ at me, similar to this once, but he was tail waggingly happy and trying to get me to pet him and fuss over him. His body language was much, much different than this dogs’.

  51. Alexandra says

    Trisha, Labs, in my experience, are often *really* soft dogs and will wilt at even a slight sign of displeasure from their owner. I’m talking pet and show lines, not field trial lines that are de facto bred to tolerate e-collar use. Even though the owner isn’t really yelling or anything severe by human standards, the dog is so clearly uncomfortable for a long time. I think the older dog is watching that guy warily, but just isn’t as sensitive as the Lab, or she’d have been offering appeasement behaviors as well. I don’t know that being so soft is so much a “Lab thing” as it seems to be characteristic of any very biddable dog who is also not status seeking and pet Labs tend to exemplify these characteristics – it’s part of what makes them so popular in my opinion.

  52. says

    Hmm, I used to think our dog looked guilty when we got home and found ripped up books or shoes. Of course, I was like 12 years old then. And didn’t have a clue about stuff like dog body language, since we’d only had cats until then.

    The dogs I have now are rescues or adopted from shelters, and at least two of them went though some kind of abuse, another was awfully headshy, but no idea of his history, and the last is just a soft dog, so if I’m seeing looks like that from these dogs, then I’m doing something SUPER wrong. As far as I’m concerned, anything that happens when I’m not in the room with them is my fault for not making sure it was dog-proof, and therefore I can’t get mad at them at all. Yes I’ve come home more than once to an incredible mess of garbage strewn about, but we just laugh and pick it up.

    And even though dogs can’t feel things, we kinda like to think they are a tiny bit proud of how ‘smart’ they are to get all the garbage out of the can for us to see. Haha.

  53. Shalea says

    Add me to the list of people who just couldn’t watch it to the end — the poor lab is so uncomfortable it just makes me cringe.

  54. Cassie says

    Did anyone else notice that the golden was doing cheek poofs when she was breathing? She may not have been in the corner acting freaked out, but she was definitly not confortable with the situation either.

    I’ve known a few heelers and BCs, labs, a doberman, and different small breed dogs that did submissive grins- I see them at the vet clinic a lot- either combined with a nervous sit down behind the owners legs, or with otherwise exuberant happy behavior- (Run up to me wagging and grinning).

  55. Mihaela says

    That poor sweet dog! You just wish you could reach in and slap that owner’s hand!

    The only other dog that I’ve seen grinning prominently like that belongs to one of my friends and is a small yellow Lab. He is a shy dog (not very well socialized) and does that whenever he meets new people.

  56. Andreja says

    I also had a hard time watching video to the end, but it didn’t feel right to comment something I didn’t see. I wouldn’t conclude that this man physically punished dog 2 before, because it seems unlikely that he wouldn’t punish dog 1 as well if such were his methods – and dog 1 doesn’t look like she’s trying to avoid punishment, just looks uncomfortable. The reason dog 2 tries so had to appease him might be that he’s more sensitive, which unfortunately makes this man’s bullying even more cruel :(

  57. Ellen Pepin says

    I did watch to the end and I found the whole thing disturbing. It was if the guy was waiting for the dog to yell “I did it.”

    I do have one question. Even though the dog was showing teeth, that was submission? I kept waiting for the dog to bite the guy. I think that the dog knew the man was angry and didn’t want to go in the kennel.

  58. Alina says

    I had the same feeling about this as I do practically every shred of media that shows dogs having human thoughts and feelings: people are ignorant.

    Also, let’s not completely pat ourselves on the back here for thinking we’re somehow more enlightened. There are other countries in the world that see our treatment/breeding/love of dogs in the U.S. as completely and utterly baffling given the amount of people we let go hungry.

    I’m just saying…

  59. Shaya says

    I did find it quite difficult to watch and was a bit worried it would end in a dog bite.

    But I can also see the side of the guy who filmed the video. If you don’t know how to read dogs– and the majority of the public don’t, it would seem like she’s acting guilty. Quick tail wag, eyes averted. Denver does seem to be a pretty soft dog. We can’t see exactly how close he is but he’s probably not right on top of her and he’s not yelling. I guess I feel like people do some really awful things to dogs and completely misreading a dog and thinking it was funny seems somewhat innocent. I don’t think we’ve seen enough to know anything more than he isn’t able to read his dogs particularly well. I still feel for the dog and hope that he gets some insight into how sensitive she (?) is.

    At least a good discussion came out of this and the issue of the “guilty look” got some press coverage beyond the readers of Inside of a Dog.

  60. says

    I agree this video is just sad :( It seems the video’s people enjoy the most are the ones they don’t understand, like this video and the one of the Jack Russell biting his own foot.

    Education and understanding is the key to good dog training!

  61. Gin says

    Very hard to watch. The poor dog, it’s heart breaking. It makes you wonder how both dogs are treated when the camera is not rolling…..

  62. Lumi says

    I just don’t understand what people are thinking. Even if the dog was expressing human kind of guilt, wouldn’t the man’s behaviour still be unacceptable? Just picture a child in the dog’s place looking as uncomfortable as the dog in the video when a grown man approaches him going on and on in a weird voice about something the child did or did not do. Who would find that funny?

  63. Lisa W says

    I thought the whole thing was odd and not funny. That Lab was cornered for too long. Someone did make a parody of it that is very funny, if you have seen any part of the first one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoMVe7BsKww&feature=related

    Aside from the fact that if I saw one of my dogs making that facial expression, I would stand back and try to see what was causing it, the whole notion of guilt reminded me of a funny incident that happened many years ago.

    We lived in a house that had the main bath off the living room. Being conservation minded, I did not always flush after peeing (don’t worry, this isn’t a pee story). Every once in a while, when I came out of the shower, there would be the used toilet paper sitting on the rug in front of our Golden’s dog bed. I never scolded her, but was a little disgusted in what I assumed was an odd and unsightly habit she was developing. (I know I should have closed the lid, but didn’t always remember.) Well, one day, I came out of the shower just in time to see our other dog, a Shepherd mix, drop the piece of used toilet paper right in front of the Golden who was snoozing on her bed! I laughed so hard at the thought of the Shepherd trying to “frame” the Golden, I startled both dogs.

    That image was what got me to finally close the toilet lid.

  64. AnneJ says

    I’m having a hard time coming up with something sensible to say. The video was disturbing. The guy made me want to run and hide as well as the dog. But the dog was not about to bite him, the grinning is a submissive gesture. I’ve seen dogs give the grin when they are doing full body wags and happy to see someone, or if they think they are in trouble and are appeasing, or if you’re trying to get them to do something they don’t like. My dog Ben grinned at me the other day when he thought I was going to give him a bath.

  65. Jenn Michaelis says

    I have seen two viral “guilty” dog videos, the poodle one too. This video is awful I think and the man who made it obviously has no idea how to read his dogs’ body language. Ugh. Disgusting.

  66. says

    I came across the video a while ago and stopped midway. The “guilty face” reminded me of an incident at the Humane Society of Huron Valley, where I volunteer. Years ago we had a stray shepherd mix that bared its teeth at a volunteer while in the play yard. She was new, and it scared her so that she started screaming and crying. That agitated the dog, which frightened her even more.

    The behavior director later took the dog to the play yard. With some experimentation she could tell that the dog had been trained to “smile” when playing fetch. It was not a sign of agression to a trained eye, but most people who come to shelters to adopt — even experienced owners — are not as adept at reading dog behavior.

    Certainly the volunteer lacked what I call dog etiquette and the director calls kennel sense. She saw teeth and not the myriad other visual cues of a dog at play. I wish owners would consider how such tricks can be misinterpreted by someone who doesn’t know the pet, though. In this case, it was correctly understood and noted in the dog’s records but I could imagine a scenario with a different ending.

    I watched the video through the end this time. It seems to be a story about two dogs who behave well and a human who doesn’t.

  67. Beth says

    Ugh. I forced myself to watch the whole thing, but this is very uncomfortable to see. Three things that instantly come to mind upon seeing it:

    1) How awful for the dog that long after he showed total submission, the owner continued to put so much pressure on him. Just goes to show that you don’t need to ever raise a hand to your dog to engage in behavior that starts to slip into abusive.

    2) There’s not even any indication that the submitting dog was the one who ate the treats. My more submissive Corgi girl will lay her ears back, lower her posture slightly, and waggle her backend at a slightly deeper voice or raised eyebrow. My bossy male rarely submits, even if he’s done something “wrong.”

    3) And to add insult to injury, he then sends the poor dog to his crate as a punishment. Nothing like making the dog see his crate as a stressful place to make all future training/confining that much harder.

    Now, I don’t necessarily agree with the implication of some commenters that the dog’s extreme appeasement indicates it is mistreated in other ways; some soft dog will just grovel at a hard look. But the man does go on much too long.

    I have, on one occasion, scolded my very bossy dog until he showed some appeasement. The crime in question was chronic shoe-and-grament stealing, and I finally caught him red-handed and sort of growled at him til he looked away. The second he looked away I backed off, though. He’s a bossy but sensitive dog and the sort of treatment in this video would ruin him. This is a dog who, in adolescence, would stand still and bark at me, ears forward, instead of moving back from a body block. Still, he’s very responsive and while I don’t believe the occasional correction is harmful to a happy-go-lucky dog, I do think that pressuring them for more than a minute after they have submitted can be harmful to their psyches.

  68. GK says

    A friend sent me the video and I was disturbed the she thought it was funny. The video made me nauseous. It was abusive and I couldn’t help but cry. I did. I cried.

    The dog’s body language revealed that, not only was he was accustomed to be treated poorly, he was anticipating being hit or otherwise physically abused. I did manage to watch the video to the end and was very sad to see the poor dog slink away. This man is a bully who enjoys ‘tricks’ like this regularly and gets a thrill by intimidating someone who can’t defend themselves.

    If this video was of a father and child rather man and dog, people would be up in arms and the child removed from the home. Yes, I realize there are far more abusive situations in which dogs are penned up their whole lives, beaten and tortured but abuse can be far more subtle – like this video.

    The dogs were also appallingly overweight. Some people should not have dogs or children. Period.

  69. em says

    I agree with so many of the other posters. It would break my heart to see one of my dogs look at me this way. Some dogs really are very soft–I had a GSP mix who would drop to her belly and cower at a scolding tone-despite never being physically abused, so I try not to leap to conclusions about that, but this video shows serious psychological bullying, in my view. It’s very different from the honestly funny (I think) reaction of a dog who knows he’s been naughty and hopes to appease his owner but who isn’t actually fearful.

    Otis is a very non-guilty dog, for the most part, though he has much more of a ‘guilty jump’ reaction when caught in a rare act of naughtiness than he did years ago. I don’t raise my voice, he’s never been physically punished, but if I casually ask, ‘Otis, what are you doing?’ and what he’s doing is against the rules, he jumps about a mile and gives me the big eyes. No infraction, same tone, no reaction. I generally chuckle, and call him over, pet and stroke and make much of him. It helps that he is very seldom doing anything actually dangerous or destructive. I might be sharp if I am trying to interrupt a bad behavior, but once it’s over, I’ve never managed to see the point in being mad at a dog.

    Actually, there was one incident that I could truly call a ‘guilty’ reaction. After our morning walk and breakfast, Otis was in the habit of climbing onto the bed and taking a nap while I showered. He was allowed, and it was not a problem. Every day, I’d come out of the bathroom to find him sprawled blissfully across the mattress, happy as a clam. One morning though, I came into the bedroom and he wasn’t there. I thought, “that’s odd, I know he came upstairs. He never gets up again once he’s settled.” I gave a mental shrug and started picking out clothes and getting ready.

    Everything seemed normal until I unwrapped the towel around my hair and tossed it onto the comforter. A POOF of down flurfed out of an eight-inch tear in the comforter and started wafting about the bedroom. I couldn’t help it. I giggled. Then I went downstairs, asking mock-seriously, “did you do something naughty?” When I caught sight of him, I started laughing uncontrollably. He was curled up on the couch, facing the wall, eyes tightly closed, covered with tiny white feathers. I didn’t harangue the pitiful creature, but I did photograph it. :-)

  70. says

    Lisa W – thanks for that link! That did make me laugh. :)

    Trisha–good point. I’ve seen such a wide variety of breeds display this, I’m not sure I can say in which breeds I see it “the most”. I will now have to confess something that, in light of the video and the comments its receiving, make me feel like a bad person, but when we have one of these patients walk through our doors (for wellness checks, not if they’re sick), it’s not unusual for me to spend some time eliciting this behavior, usually with a “goo-goo-gah-gah” voice because we all find it so endearing. One of our favorites is a Keeshond. Or sometimes I’ll do it for the purposes of getting a good video/photo, such as the one of this JRT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/olatheanimalhospital/4882812634/

  71. Connie says

    This video made me sick to my stomach and then some. The insipid tone of voice he is using, how funny he clearly thinks the escalating appeasment gestures are, and that obnoxious music – the most astounding thing about it to me was how popular it became!

    I am not a dog trainer, but I have worked very hard to be the best dog owner I can be, and treasure dearly the relationship of mutual respect my dog and I have. It breaks my heart to see dogs being so completely bullied like I see in this video. Why does the average person seem to be so clueless about the non-verbal communication signs in dogs? The other thing I have noticed is that the more ‘wrong’ (misguided, anthropomorphic, whatever) the particular person’s interpretation of their dog’s actions are, the more emotionally charged any suggestion that it might be incorrect becomes. Is this just me too? Both completely baffle me, and it is THAT as much as the dog’s behavior that makes me sick to my stomach watching this video.

  72. says

    Another nauseating example of what some people in our culture view animals to be – objects of amusement. How else would this guy find it acceptable to broadcast this? I, too, couldn’t watch it to the end.

  73. Donna in VA says

    I only watched the video with the sound very low. I agree both dogs wanted that person (or camera?) to go away and it was sad to watch. But I wonder how much of it was a reaction to the camera and presumably bright light attached, rather than the person. Also I would NEVER corner a dog that was uncomfortable like that. I think we need to teach others the risk they are taking when they corner any dog. Leave the dog with plenty of escape options and they will probably use them.

  74. Jennifer Hamilton says

    As a pet resort owner, I see a lot of breeds. I tend to see submissive grins in a higher percentage of Vislas than other breeds…especially younger ones.

  75. Pat Wildgen says

    No, you idiot owner! YOU let it happen! And then he sends the dog to his kennel and actually thinks that dog has any idea why he is in trouble!!!!!

  76. Pat Wildgen says

    To the owner: YOU let it happen – not your dog. To make matters worse he sends the dog to his kennel and doesn’t realize that this dog has no idea why he is being punished.

  77. says

    He should be in the penalty box for leaving the cat treats where they could reach them. Talk about reinforcing unwanted behavior. How about leaving a nice juicy steak on the counter when he is home, bored and hungry? GGGGRRRR!!!!!
    We expect more from our dogs than ourselves sometimes.

  78. Rachel Simpson says

    When I first saw this video, my thoughts were “OMG, this poor dog!” Someone else here mentioned the other video that even appeared on “America’s Funniest Videos” or some show like it, the one where the poor dog is attacking his own foot, and I felt the same way about that one. It is so irritating to see people who own dogs (or other animals) and assuming what the dog is thinking or feeling. I cannot tell you how many times people have told me that their dog did something out of spite, or was totally feeling guilty about something that happened. And then they think that I’m nuts when I tell that they are wrong, that they are anthropomorphizing, projecting what they think that their dog should be feeling at that moment. It’s very frustrating.
    I really hope that neither party ever gets bit by either of these dogs, but frankly, I think they are asking for it!

  79. says

    Thank you for this post Patricia! I thought the very same thing when I watched this video… I didn’t find it funny at all! And of course that dog was going to react differently than the other, the tone of the person’s voice changed completely when he spoke to the second dog! I am definitely going to share this!

    Thanks for all of your great work, you are helping animals everywhere be better understood!

  80. Becky says

    O.K., you’ve got plenty of comments that all say a bit of what I’m feeling…just YUK! I recently said at a family dinner that in my younger years I honestly thought that humans were “higher up” than the animal kingdom. But oh how very WRONG I was. These creatures are so very far ahead of us humans as to be to laughable. The only thing we got goin on is language- and even that becomes questionable when you look at all the in fighting in our own country. I always think about the Bonoboes (sp?). That when they are upset with one another they HUG. Their DNA most closely matches ours. So what’s our problem, our “major malfunction”? It seems to me that we lose sight of compassion and empathy, and live in absolute hubris of knowing “whats best” for our animal companions. In reality, they know what’s best for US! We need to look to our animal companions for wisdom and kindness and honesty. (And in this format, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir!)

  81. robin says

    you all need to lighten up,eat your granola and get over it!!! being a mama to two yellow lab babies, I can assure you Denvers reaction to being scolded for eating something she should not have had, is a natural reaction, especially in Labs who love to eat,and not a reaction of fear due to abuse etc. Also by the looks of Denver,she has been into the kitty treats more than once,(she’s a chunky looking girl)and also a comment to Becky. If you had children would they be higher up than you? I consider my labs my babies. I spoil them,I love them,I teach them,and yes I also scold them if they misbehave,just like any human parent would do for their human child,humans should do for their furry babies. Again people,lighten up!!!!!!!!

  82. robin says

    Oh by they way,I bought the shirt! OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! What a bad person,OH PLEASE!!!!!!!

  83. Andreja says

    Robin, I doubt that dog got so fat by eating cat treats once in a while. And if it happened more than once in a while, then this owner really should think about their methods, because they’re not working!

    An experiment I watched on YouTube comes to mind (and I’m not condoning the methods here)… they let a dog in a room with a bowl of food. Experimenter punished the dog as soon as he started eating. Sure enough, after some tries the dog wouldn’t eat from that bowl anymore. In another setup dogs were punished after 15 seconds of eating. This time they didn’t learn to avoid the bowl. If I remember correctly they did start to slow down on their approach, but it didn’t take long before they dove right in.

    So next time you scold your dog when you catch them after the act (possibly minutes or even hours later) try to remember it’s not going to work no matter what they might “know”.

  84. says

    Friends posted to FB – thought it was horrible and was surprised by how many people thought it was ‘cute’. Poor dog.

  85. s says

    as the owner of a very submissive dog – that was difficult to watch because I felt badly for the dogs. Is that really a submissive grin? I thought the lip curl would make it a bit more of a defensive move? I thought the submissive grin ended open mouthed vs defensive, but I am confess I’m not very schooled in dog language.

  86. t says

    LOL Sounds like some of you need to watch videos of real dog abuse. Maybe then you’ll realize this dog is going to be just fine. He didn’t hit her, he didn’t force her into the crate, he didn’t even yell. Geeze, stop being so sensitive.

    (I understand that the dog is uncomfortable and yeah, he shouldn’t have made her feel that way for something that wasn’t her fault. Again, I don’t agree with what he did and I wouldn’t ever do that to my dogs. But to those of you actually crying over this video and calling it ‘severe abuse’, seriously? That is being waaay too dramatic.)

  87. Melanie says

    I’m so with you on this…..watching this video makes me extremely uncomfortable. What I see is a dog that is being relentlessly “pressed” and it’s doing everything it knows to convey that it is uncomfortable and “giving in”. I can’t tell you how many people have told me to watch this and they think it’s funny…..it’s truly painful to me. People are always talking about dogs being “guilty” or mad at their owners and misbehaving. I hope some day people will stop interpreting their dog’s behavior in terms of their own experiences/behaviors.

  88. Tacosalad says

    It’s disappointing that instead of using his video to as a learning experience to better understand dog behavior, he’d rather perpetuate the belief that his dog is being guilty so he can make some $$$ selling his “guilty dog” merchandise.

  89. Eva D'Amico says

    What is that grimace all about anyways? My dog Bailey does that every morning to my husband when he greets him–only in the morning. Never to me–and my husband certainly doesn’t ‘abuse’ him though I think he is more ‘alpha’ then I am. Is it a submissive gesture? My other dog never does this–am interested in learning about this.

  90. Lilitha says

    I just happened to see that video just the other day and it bothered me. I tried to add a comment but that guy has the comments locked so he to approve of any comments before they are allowed, and he didn’t allow mine. I suspect because he doesn’t want people explaining what is really going on.

  91. suzi says

    Robin I agree with you. People lighten up. I have a beagle, I DON’T leave food laying around. He pushes chairs (we left a video cam recording to see how he got into cabinets) jumps on them, then jumps on counters and opens the cabinets. We put child locks on them, he figured out how to scratch them off. One day Thanksgiving he took the whole turkey out of the fridge (which had TWO childproof locks and when we got home he was laying on the floor with his little submissive grin. He also learned after we got super expensive cabinet locks to get on top of the fridge and this we found out because he could not get down. Nothing could keep him out of that kitchen, not the kiddie gates, we finally had to install a door from the dining room to the kitchen and another one from the hallway to the kitchen. Don’t blame the owner, some dogs are slick and can get to treats when they want to. BTW I am a conservation biologist, took many courses in animal behavior and this is def considered a submissive grin, sometimes seen in lower ranking african wild dogs too. I have also seen dogs that smile that way when they are happy and excited.

  92. Christie says

    Couldn’t watch the lab. He is obviously in some kind of pain or distress.. Made me wonder if after the camera zipped rolling, the dogs got a beating or punished in some very demeaning or painful manner. HATE THAT! But have to realize that people who aren’t as practiced as deciphering dog behavior might not be aware of the bigger picture. :-(

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