Can Dogs Understand Us When We are Mad?

Sparky, get off the couch!”
Sparky freezes his body on the couch.
I can’t believe you are on the couch." "Sparky bad boy.”
Sparky looks down and away but still doesn't get off the sofa.
“We have company be good and get down.” You say motioning
from the couch to the floor.
Sparky gets off the couch his head and haunches down.
"Good boy for getting off the couch." you say sweetly and kindly.
Sparky approaches you wagging his tale in submission and friendliness.

Your dog is not responding to your words nor does he feel guilty or know that he has done wrong. Though dogs can understand some words. Typicaly he is responding to your nonverbal communication. Your voice and your behaviors. Dogs may look guilty, but they are typically responding to their powerful humans. Dogs have the human mind equivalent of a 2 to 2 and ½ year old. They don’t feel guilt. Guilt doesn’t typically develop in humans until age four. If you ever raised a teenager or dated a jerk or jerkess you now a sense of right and wrong may not develop even in an adult. What dogs do understand is your tone of voice, your facial expressions, your gestures and posture. Dogs have been bred for generations to be astute readers of human body language. They have learned to associate mad Pet Mommy or Pet Daddy with certain behaviors and respond accordingly.

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional
The Body Language Expert
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