Does Your Dog Give Dirty Looks?


Does Your Dog Give Dirty Looks?We dog owners are often accused by canine researchers of assigning human emotions to our pups. But according to Stanley Coren in his article for Psychology Today, those dirty looks just might be real. Stanley doesn’t have to convince me though. If Haley had a middle finger, she would probably use it occasionally to express her feelings. I should probably be thankful too that she can’t speak because I would be getting an earful every time I tell her to “Go lay down”. Please tell me I’m not alone here, does your dog give dirty looks too?

What Emotions Do Dogs Feel?

In Stanley’s article, he explains that dogs most likely have the emotional equivalence of a 2 1/2 year-old child. They feel excitement (or arousal), distress, contentment, disgust, fear, anger, joy, suspicion, shyness and love or affection. I notice Haley displaying most of these emotions and you probably see them in your dog too, right?

Guilty DogThe more complex emotions like shame, pride, guilt or contempt that develop in children between the ages of 3-5 years are supposed to be beyond the range of what dogs experience. Hmm, I swear Haley feels guilty when she goes dumpster diving in the kitchen trash can. I wonder if some dogs could be more emotionally developed than others. After all, each dog is a little bit different and perhaps some fall into different emotional ranges and might feel guilt or pride. It sure seems like some dogs do a prideful dance while they prance around after stealing a toy away from another dog.

Haley’s Top Three Emotional Tantrums

Whether or not Haley feels the more complex emotions, I love the way she expresses her emotions through her body language and yes, even her occasional dirty looks. Here are her top three ways of letting me know she’s less than pleased with me.

1. The turn around, dirty look while leaving the room.
This doesn’t happen often, but when Haley gets too pushy or doesn’t listen, I tell her to “Go lay down”. She then begins the slow walk out of the room with her head hung low. She always makes sure to turn and shoot me a dirty look before she leaves. Maybe she’s checking to see if I’ll change my mind but it sure looks like a dirty look to me.
2. The “In a minute” protest grumble.
This is Haley’s verbal protest when she has to wait for something and the usual sigh doesn’t make enough of an impact. She likes to combine it with a frustrated grunt as she falls into a down position on the floor.
3. The pouting and suck-up routine.
Just like a 2 year-old child who’s learned to play sides, Haley heads straight to my husband if I tell her “No”. She’ll try to get what she wants from him or will lie down beside him and pout. If we both say no to her, she’ll often go to the far side of the room and pout alone. Luckily, she gets over it quickly though.

Dog Giving Dirty LookI find Haley’s little protests and temper tantrums amusing. I don’t mind the looks, grumbles and pouting at all because they’re all part of her unique personality and they make her more “human” to me. I like knowing what she’s thinking or feeling. One thing I find interesting though is comparing male and female dogs. I’ve often heard that female dogs are a little more emotional or moody in this respect. Since I’ve always had female dogs, maybe some of you can weigh in on your thoughts about that.

Does your dog give dirty looks or show their displeasure with you? It’s pretty humorous when it happens. Tell us how your dog lets you know what’s on their mind or upload their picture in the comment section below! Does Your Dog Give Dirty Looks?

36 Comments on “Does Your Dog Give Dirty Looks?”

    • Our trainer told us not to assign human emotions to dogs, but then after working with us, she said she did believe I, for one, was showing human emotional behavior. I think we all do to a point.

    • Both pups have shown me their K9 version of our human middle finger – with Buzz it’s usually when I put an end to his ball time outside, and with Missy it’s when I send her out of the kitchen. Since she’s a slave to her stomach, she’s a master at stalking anything that might fall onto the floor 😉

      • Oh boy, Missy is so much like Haley, lol! And Buzz is all about fetching. They’re both so adorable, it’s hard to imagine any dirty looks from either of them.?

    • Oh man yes! Sade-Mae is our 100lb baby (shep/retriver) she gives all the “looks” sad doe eyes, pouting ect. She actually gets so dissappointed that I ignore her whining she frequently gives up w/a loud pronounced “OOHHHHHH” lol. She Loves hugs and thinks shes a lap dog, even her vet can’t believe her emotional range. She plays my husband like a fiddle too. She’s 4yrs old and love her “human” side!

      • Oh, those “sad doe eyes” are the best, aren’t they? Sade-Mae sounds really smart and loving. I’m so glad you have her in your life and I know she feels the same way about you.?

    • I wish I could post pics on here. All my dogs and the cat have so many expressions. Like Flea, mine will avoid eye contact if they don’t want to do something.

      • Ah yes, the cats definitely can give those dirty looks too, haha! Do you ever catch the dogs and your cat giving looks to each other?

        • Absolutely. Like I said I wish I could post a pic. I have the cutest one of Jake (mini schnauzer) and Rosa the cat and the looks on their faces tell the whole story

          • Hey Mary! I added the feature to upload your pictures in the comment section. I would love to see that image of Jake and Rosa!?

    • I greatly enjoyed this post! Dakota has given me what I call “his side look” since the day we first brought him home. It is almost uncertain, almost disgust…..he doesn’t do it all of the time but when he does it just totally cracks me up!

      • Thanks, Caren! I bet Dakota’s side look is hilarious. It’s probably like a human eye roll with a little disgust thrown in there for dramatic effect, haha!?

    • Funny! I love this post and Haley’s faces. My cats give dirty looks all the time. I think dirty looks are a cat qualification.
      As for dogs and shame, guilt, and pride, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen my dogs express all of those in their actions if not their faces.

      • I think you’re right about it being a requirement for cats, lol! I’m glad you agree about the guilt, shame and pride too. Btw, your book will be on its way to you tomorrow, enjoy!?

      • That’s so interesting, Cathy. I’ve heard people say that male dogs are pretty much happy-go-lucky all the time. I might have to consider a male dog for our next one!

    • Sinead is a master of dirty looks. We call it the “stink eye,” and she often whips it out during photo shoots. If I ignore the look, she doubles down with a very heavy sigh as though she is just disgusted with me. I’m like you: I think it’s wonderful!

      Jean from Welcome to the Menagerie

      • Oh yes, I’ve seen that look from a few of Sinead’s pics on your blog and I absolutely LOVE them. She has so much personality!?

    • I came home hours later than normal once and at first Hershey was excited to see me. Then she went back outside and wouldn’t come in. Even when it was time to go to bed she wouldn’t come in. I figured, eh, let her have her pout, and went to bed. At midnight the sprinklers in the back yard came on and suddenly I was completely and loudly forgiven!

    • Those ‘stink’ eye looks always crack me up even though behaviorists say not to associate human emotions to them. Can’t help but do it though. Crack me up and make me smile. Every. Single. Time. ?

    • Like Haley, I swear Ruby does show some guilt when she has done something like get in the trash or have the occasional accident. I may be projecting, but her face and body language sure seem that way to me.

      Our last dog was a male and he definitely was less concerned when he did something he shouldn’t have done. He almost never projected guilt (even when he should have). He also did give me some looks of disgust especially in his later, more senior years when he was put on a low-fat, heart healthy diet. He was a true terrier and quite stubborn.

      Ruby is much more eager to please us – even though she makes the occasional mistake.

      • It’s interesting what you mentioned about the senior years. I think dogs may be a lot like people when they get older. They’re more likely to show what they’re really feeling, lol!

    • BOL!! I’m cracking up from this! Anyone who doesn’t believe that dogs give dirty looks should have seen the look on Phoebe’s face when I gave Icy a bone and not her. Yikes, it was Like Daggers! I gave Icy the bone because she was exceptionally good during our therapy dog visit and my clumsy husband accidentally stepped on her foot as soon as we got home! Poor Icy. So I gave her this bone I’d been saving. Phoebe was so NOT amused. Phoebe did get a biscuit, but still….. Daggers!
      Love & Biscuits,
      Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

      • Yep, I’m sure Phoebe knew the difference between a yummy bone and a treat. Luckily, they usually get over it pretty quickly. We’re just lucky they can’t talk and tell us exactly what they’re thinking, haha!

    • I’ve captured those dirty looks on camera! Cricket is famous for giving them if I’m withholding a treat while I take a photo, or she wants her ball thrown. And I have to say I see it from her, though I can’t really say that I’ve seen it much from Luke. But I always figured that was just her beagle attitude, not that she’s a female. 🙂

      • Yes, I get those too when trying to take pictures, haha! Both Cricket and Luke have such wonderful personalities and it really comes through in your images and writing. Hugs to both of them!💗

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