Can you embarrass a dog?
Do Dogs Get Embarrassed? What You Need to Know!
Maybe your dog slipped and fell down the stairs and then ran off with eyes averted and tail between his legs. Or else you tried dressing the new puppy up as a reindeer for Christmas, and he spent the whole night hiding behind the couch. In a human, we’d definitely assume that these are signs of embarrassment. But in dogs, it’s a little more complicated. In short, dogs can feel something like embarrassment, though with less nuance than humans.
Embarrassment vs Shame vs Guilt
To figure out if dogs feel embarrassed, let’s start by thinking about what that really means.
Embarrassment is part of a whole spectrum of closely related emotions centered around doing something wrong. Shame, guilt, and self-consciousness are other emotions that are closely related. You might feel embarrassed when you make a mistake in front of other people, but you probably don’t feel ashamed of yourself. That’s because embarrassment is all about social perception, while shame is more about your own morality. These kinds of subtle distinctions are probably lost on your dog.
But that doesn’t mean that your dog doesn’t feel emotions under that umbrella.
Positive and Negative Attention
Another way to think about embarrassment is about your dog’s attempts to fit in with the “pack.” Dogs are social creatures, and they definitely respond to social cues. Like humans, they want positive attention and acceptance from the group, and they don’t want negative attention or rejection. Embarrassment is an outgrowth of that.
So, when your dog goes to hide after he slips and falls, he’s probably feeling a type of embarrassment that comes from making a mistake in front of others. He doesn’t want to be seen as weak or clumsy because he doesn’t want negative attention.
But avoiding negative attention might not always come from embarrassment. Take the costume example. You might feel like your dog is self-conscious about the silly costume, but it’s much more likely that being forced to wear something uncomfortable counts as negative attention in your dog’s book. Your dog is going off to sulk because he didn’t like the interaction, not because he thinks it looks silly.
Signs of Embarrassment in Dogs
The ways dogs communicate embarrassment can also be a little confusing. A common sign is submissive behavior. This could include tucking their tails, dropping their ears, and cowering. They might avoid eye contact, retreat to a safe space to be alone, and overall, not want attention.
Other dogs might respond to embarrassment by masking the emotion—either by trying to pretend that nothing’s wrong or by acting irritated or distressed. Getting to know your individual dog’s reactions can help you decide how they are feeling.
So, the short answer is that your dog probably feels something akin to embarrassment, but they probably don’t get all the nuances that go along with that in humans. Embarrassment is really complicated when you think about it! But overall, if you want to say your dog is embarrassed, you can go right ahead.
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- Does My Dog Think Humans Are Dogs? The Surprising Answer!
Featured Image Credir: Pexels
8 Dog Owners Reveal Their Most Embarrassing Moments
We love our pets, but it’s hard to deny that they have a tendency to show off their, um, most inconvenient attributes when we least expect it. Like at the dog park. Or when company’s over. Or in front of the boss during a visit to the office.
So we reached out to our Facebook fans with a question: How has your pet embarrassed you? And we got some hilarious responses we think you’ll enjoy. Check out the gallery below.
«Dear, sweet Katie. We had umpires and their wives staying over for a tournament weekend. While we sat around talking in the living room, Katie piled six pairs of women’s underwear in front of the fireplace. Total embarrassment for the ladies.»
— Mike Stewart
«My dog is a professional beggar. When we are all around the table, she will play musical laps, putting her head on everyone’s lap, begging for whatever ‘yummies’ they have and leaving a pile of slobber on people’s laps as a parting gift! But who can resist that face?!»
— Lea Church
«Our dog Amun, a Miniature Pinscher, loves to move things that are not his toys around the house. One day, we discovered that he loves to take my husband’s underwear and leave them all over the backyard. We try really hard to keep them away from him — to no avail. He always manages to find a pair and promptly takes them outside. The good news: He takes only my husband’s, not mine. He never damages them, either. We can only wonder what the neighbors are thinking: Those two people must have some wild times. No, but the dog is happy.»
— Lupe Eagan
«When he was 3 years old, my 100-pound male chocolate Lab had to have a biopsy done on his nose. Ten days later, we dutifully returned so that his six little pink stitches could be removed. We walked into the very crowded waiting room and took a seat at the end of a long bench, at which time Bear decided that he would slide all the way to the wall under said bench. When the tech came to get him, I reached down to grasp his harness to assist him in getting out from under the bench. He promptly decided he was not having anything to do with this procedure and then braced his back against the wall, lowered his head and slid sideways down the wall; I ended up holding an empty harness. He then laid against the wall, completely stretched out, behind several people’s feet and refused to come out. The tech left the room. A minute or so later, she returned (meanwhile, I was trying to convince Bear to ‘man up,’ come out from under the bench and have his stitches removed). The tech brought reinforcements; she asked everyone to stand up and move their various dogs and cats away from the bench. The two techs then laid on the floor, slid under the bench, and one laid across Bear’s chest while the other one removed his stitches. They then slid him out from under the bench, and I re-dressed him in his harness. Of course, as soon as the harness clicked, up he jumped and bolted for the door. Raising my voice over the gales of laughter emitting from all of the people, I asked what I owed the clinic for their services; the tech’s response was, ‘There is no charge; Bear has made everyone’s day!’ I then proceeded to attempt to remove myself and my miscreant dog with some shred of dignity. He is aptly called Pooh Bear!»
— L. Brooke Raber
«Thirty-five years ago, a young man came to pick me up for our first date. My family had an old, pretty much toothless hound dog named Dandy. When I was called and asked out for a second date, I was asked to tie the dog up because he bit my date the first time he came. I said, ‘Dandy does not have many teeth. How could he bite?’ Sure enough, my date had bruises on his leg. He and Dandy became friends, and that date and I have been married 34 years.»
— Robin Brumagin
«My husband is a veterinarian, and I was his bookkeeper until a year ago. We took all our dogs to work with us, and our clients got to know them. When my Saint Bernard was a puppy, about 4 months old, a female client who was a well-dressed attorney, asked to see cute little Ruby. We let her out into the reception area so the client could pet her. Well, the client leaned way down to pet her, and Ruby promptly rolled over on her back and peed a big fountain straight up into the lawyer’s face! We were horrified.»
— Maxine Hall Beckner
«My dogs don’t like anyone on a bicycle, including me. They bark at me like I’m a total stranger.»
— Wendy Fleming Dexter
«The time that our Louie decided to do a big poo in front of the king of Malaysia at our golf resort in Bali — with his wife, staff, security, company and tank watching.»
— Kim-Marie Froehlich
If you can’t get enough of these embarrassing stories, here are some more from our Facebook fans:
- “My 10-year-old Toy Poodle has had a stuffed bear for his ‘girlfriend’ since he was a pup. It is the only thing with which he has ever been too ‘friendly,’ but he invariably gets the urge when we have company.” — Leah Kendall
- “I had a ferret run out from the bathroom with a tampon she got out of the bathroom trash. My in-laws were there and saw it.” — Tara Frink Racca
- “Our cat Stormy used to go into the bathroom and get the toilet paper and run all through the house till it was off the spool!” — Donna Foltz
Though all of these mishaps luckily ended well for the pets featured here, remember that pets getting ahold of objects (like underwear) and food other than their normal diet (like pizza) can lead to potentially serious emergencies. It’s always best to keep these things out of your pet’s reach and be safe rather than sorry.
How has your pet embarrassed you? Share your story with us on Facebook.