This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclaimer policy
Dogs must be one of the most excitable animal species on the planet, so it’s no wonder that they find themselves having to apologize for some of their actions.
It’s easy for us to say sorry to dogs by using our words and buying them extra treats to snack on. However, dogs need to find other ways to apologize when they’re in the wrong.
Whether they’re apologizing to their favorite humans, or whether they’re apologizing to other dogs, we have a look at some of the things that our canine friends can do to say sorry.
How Do Dogs Know to Say Sorry?
Since becoming domesticated between 14,000 and 29,000 years ago, dogs have adapted to live side-by-side with humans. Dogs have learned things over the years like when to ask for food, how to ask for attention, signaling when they need to go to the toilet, and when to say sorry. Dogs can do this by using their instincts to know when humans are annoyed or sad.
The easiest way for dogs to know when to apologize is by using social cues that they’ve picked up and reading the facial expressions on people’s faces. Dogs have taught themselves to associate different emotions with tones of voice and facial expressions so that when they sense negative energy they know how to act.
Wild dogs often socialize strongly within their pack and obey social cues and rules, much like humans do in society. A pack of dogs has a leader, also known as the alpha male. Other dogs will look to this figure and use social cues to understand how to act around the alpha. Because of this, it’s believed that dogs have an innate sense of how they react around humans.
Despite not being actual wolves, domesticated dogs have dominance hierarchies depending on a factor of things. If humans are the ones in charge of their relationship, then the dog is often more submissive or more willing to follow instructions.
However, there are a lot of dogs out there that will try to dictate when they do activities like exercise and eating. With relationships like these, it’s unlikely the dog will feel the need to say sorry as much as a dog with a more respectful relationship with its owner.
The scientific term for animals saying sorry is referred to as ‘reconciliation’. Like humans, dogs have many different ways of saying sorry and can display their thoughts and feelings in many different ways.
Ways that Dogs Can Say Sorry
There are lots of ways that dogs can express their apologetic side, however, different relationships may cause different reactions out of different canines.
One way that your four-legged friend may say sorry is by bringing you their favorite toy. We know that dogs don’t always love to share their toys, especially with other dogs. So when your pup brings you their favorite chew or their favorite teddy, it can show a great sign of endearment and care.
Although dogs can’t speak human languages, it’s often thought that they try to talk to their owner. Breeds such as Malamutes and huskies are notoriously known for being a very talkative species of canine and will often ‘talk’ to their owner through a series of barking and whining, to apologize. By doing this, they can get your attention and do very well to keep it, considering how loud and sassy they can get!
Another method of apologizing that dogs can use is by licking you. The typical area for your dog to lick is on the hand so that they don’t intrude on your space too much and keep themselves relatively subtle. On top of this, they may snuggle into your neck or your side to show solidarity, almost to remind you that they’re by your side.
The key method is for your pet to give you lots of loving attention and care until you change your demeanor and forgive them or display more positive body language
Nowadays, with the magic of social media, it’s common to see videos of dogs going viral because of their escapades. A common way that a dog might apologize for its actions is by hiding its face. Almost like they’re remembering the hierarchy of the house, your dog will avoid your gaze and sometimes sit in a corner. It’s almost like a way of punishing themselves and apologizing at the same time.
Dogs will also give you space to say sorry. It sounds counterproductive but a lot of canines will stay clear of you if they think you’re displaying negative energy or gloomy behavior.
If your dog has annoyed you, we all know that it’s hard to stay mad at your pet, however, at first it feels easier if they’re out of sight and out of mind. They know that if they keep pestering you then it takes longer for you to calm down.
Canines can also use physical signs to display their apologetic tendencies. For example, we’ve all seen that when a dog knows they’ve done wrong that they’ll often place their tail between their legs to show their owner a sign of remorse or guilt.
On top of this, they also tend to drop their ears to gain some sort of sympathy from their human pal. Using their ‘puppy dog eyes’ and wagging their tail can also be used to help plead their case of keeping their human positive.
The History of ‘Puppy Dog Eyes’
It may come as a surprise, but dogs haven’t always used their big, sad eyes to get what they want. Scientists have conducted studies into the subject and have found that canines raise their eyebrows to make their eyes look bigger and wider because it seems to get a nurturing reaction from human beings. Although the dog’s eyes appear larger, they’re not.
Your dog may do this because of its similarity with a human’s signs of sadness and sorrow. However, it’s thought that dogs only learned to do this following their domestication from the wilderness.
Scientists believe that dogs developed a facial muscle, which allows canines to raise their eyebrows, imitating human behavior and triggering an emotional response.
Wolves, which are the wild ancestor of the common dog, don’t have these muscles due to their untampered adaptation and evolution. The only species of dog that lacks these muscles, is the Siberian Husky, which is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world.
Although our dogs sometimes have the energy and the confidence of a wild animal, it’s clear to see that there is a deep emotional connection with their owners. A lot of animals don’t have a concept of right and wrong, let alone know how to apologize to other beings.
As previously stated, there are lots of different ways that our furry friends will apologize to us, differing depending on their relationship with their human counterparts.
A lot of it stems back to their heritage as wild dogs and wolves, where they obeyed a structure within the wolfpack. Although they don’t see a relationship with a human as a small pack, they still have a sense of respect and hierarchy embedded within their DNA.
So, the next time your four-legged little buddy ends up annoying you in some way, just remember that they’ll do their best to make it up to you and that not many other animals are as loyal or as conscious about their actions.