It is a known fact that humans get embarrassed. Whether we have toilet paper stuck on our feet or trip on the pavement while walking to work. It happens to the best of us. But do our dogs get a similar feeling? Do they feel embarrassed when something unexpected and silly happens to them?
We have all heard the stories of “embarrassed” dogs being dressed up in Halloween costumes hiding under beds to avoid being seen or giving us adorable and sad puppy eyes. However, researchers and dog owners are divided when it comes to dogs feeling embarrassment. On one hand, there have been some researchers who believe that dogs have these secondary emotions like embarrassment, shyness, humiliation, jealousy, and guilt. While other animal experts believe that dogs only experience "instant reaction" emotions such as fear, joy, and anger.
These researchers mentioned above believe that embarrassment is too complex of an emotion for dogs to feel. This is because dogs would have to understand overall social norms and morals, which so far researchers have been unable to prove. Researchers aren’t completely against the idea however it is very hard to differentiate what embarrassment is compared to fear, discomfort, or anxiety. For example, a dog may fall as they are running upstairs and will look at us as if they are embarrassed but they may really be nervous or anxious.
Many dog owners (like us) will say that our dog has an “embarrassed” face when something happens. Nonetheless, researchers have concluded that our pups have started making this face in response to us. After hundreds of years of domestication, dogs have learned how to read our faces and how to respond appropriately. For example, when we look mad they will respond with a sad face.
This word is most often used by researchers and in the science and behavioural fields and sounds more complicated than it really is. The term describes the act of applying human characteristics to things that are not human such as dogs. When we think a dog is feeling embarrassed about putting on a costume, having a bad haircut, or walking into a screen door, they may not have any feelings about it at all, but, we as humans imagine they do.
Do you think your dog gets embarrassed? Or do you agree with the research above? Share your thoughts in the comments below!