Featured image courtesy of Sheila Sund, Flickr
 
Every dog owner knows exactly the look we’re talking about: the droopy face and the sad upturned eyes. Your dog is guilty of something.
 
You don’t know if he ate the cat food, pooped on the carpet or peed on your bed.
 
You’re probably now cursing their name and shrieking “bad dog, bad dog!”
 
But, despite the sad look on their face, they’re not experiencing guilt. They’re afraid.

A 2009 study called “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know” says that humans are way too prone to project human emotions on their pets. The guilty look proves that.

Here’s the rest of what the study found:

1. “Trials varied the opportunity for dogs to disobey an owner’s command to not eat a desirable treat while the owner was out of the room, and varied the owners’ knowledge of what their dogs did in their absence.”

2. “The results revealed no difference in behaviors associated with the guilty look. By contrast, more such behaviors were seen in trials when owners scolded their dogs. The effect of scolding was more pronounced when the dogs were obedient, not disobedient.”

3. “These results indicate that a better description of the so-called guilty look is that it is a response to owner cues, rather than that it shows an appreciation of a misdeed.”

Basically, dogs do the guilty look because they fear being scolded.

For good measure, here’s an adorable dog who’s perfected his guilty face.