Guilt is a very human reaction that we tend to experience when we’ve done something that we know (or think) is wrong. Our conscience bothers us, and we can’t escape the nagging feeling of shame.
Dogs are very sensitive critters and can pick up on our emotions more easily than we can pick up on other people’s emotions. They can sense when we are happy, upset or angry just because of the vibes we’re sending out or the way we’re behaving.
This means that in many cases where a dog looks guilty, it’s actually just fearful. If it did something bad and senses that you are upset, it may not necessarily know you’re angry because of what it did.
It just knows you’re unhappy and directing all your attention on it, so it gives off a lot of fearful signs that humans read as “guilt.” Avoiding eye contact, sad puppy eyes, cringing or lying down and wagging, and yawning or lip-licking can all be stress responses.
Still, there seem to be some dogs who link their actions to their owner’s unhappiness, and know when they’ve done something bad — and whether or not they are truly exhibiting “shame” or just “fear,” owners will continue to see guilt written all over their pups’ expressions.
There are plenty of photos and videos online displaying this phenomenon, with Denver the Guilty Dog being one of the most well-known.
But none of us is a stranger to the slinking movements of a pup who has been scolded or who is in fear of being scolded. Some hide, trying to get out of reach, while others cuddle up to their owners and beg for mercy.
Ettore falls into the latter category. He’s a Labrador retriever or mix who hails from Italy and has made the rounds on social media after what many are seeing as an adorable, heartwarming encounter.
Anthony Federica Granai, presumably Ettore’s owner and the man who posted the video to his page, is sitting on the couch as the clip starts.
Ettore is sitting in front of him, looking up with squinty eyes as Granai questions him.
“Are you asking me to forgive you?” Granai said at one point, The Daily Mail wrote in its translation. “You are wrong, Ettore.”
“Do you understand where you made the mistake?”
The sorrowful pup creeps up into his owner’s lap, while Granai refuses to pet him. The dog presses his head against Granai, seeking some sort of comfort, but it’s not until he puts his paws on the man’s shoulders that he’s given a hug back.
The lab melts into Granai’s arms, still looking a little unsure about the whole thing. Who knows what atrocity the dog committed to be chastised so (or maybe he’s just a needy pup who wanted more attention), but in the end, all was made better by a reassuring snuggle with the person he clearly adores.
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