How Do Dogs Apologize? How Do Dogs Say Sorry to Humans?

Being a dog parent you may have noticed that your pooch gets bored at home when he/she is left alone and finds something to entertain himself.

When you arrive, you may have found chewed shoes and pillows lying in your house and your dog sitting in a corner.

From stealing food from the kitchen cabinet or fridge, chewing shoes or using the bathroom, they do all the wrong things when they are left alone, but do they ever say sorry?

How do dogs apologize?

Dogs say sorry by expressing physical signs like the tail-between-the-legs pose, dropped ears, wide eyes, reduce panting, rubbing their face against the paw or wagging the tail. Usually, it’s the dog’s way to accept that they made a mistake and it is a submissione expression rather than saying sorry.

Though many dog parents assume that their dogs know how to say sorry, we don’t know for sure if they are really saying sorry.

Dogs understand that they have screwed up and their tail between the legs pose is actually an apology bow as per City University of New York researchers.   

Naughty dogs hang their heads and tuck the tails to seem obedient, which is known to be a socially clever move that dogs inherited from wolves, according to CUNY biologists.

When you assume that your dog looks guilty, you are actually projecting your feelings onto the pooch in the context of the situation. But in reality, they are reacting to your reaction.

Do Dogs Know When They’ve Done Something Wrong?

As a dog owner who spends time training the puppies know that they can learn actions we state as the right behaviour.

A dog’s behaviour in front of their owners after a naughty act is a learned behaviour of acceptance to their owners’ angry expressions, stated a 2009 study conducted by Alexandra Horowitz, a canine psychologist at the Columbia University Dog Cognition Lab.

Owners usually mistaken this behaviour of their canine as guilt, but it is actually the reaction to the owners angry or displeased emotions.

You might be thinking why do they tuck their tails or run away before you notice their naugty deeds. This is because they are super smart and they learn to associate a specific event to a specific human response.

For example, your dog may hide even before you notice chewed shoes because he/she remembers that chewed shoes make you upset.

Now, you might be thinking why would they do the deed when they know that the owners would get upset. This is because dogs are not able to connect the two events to realize that chewing shoes is wrong.

Also practice positive reinforcement methods with your furry friend. Always reward good behaviours instead of punishing your dog’s bad behaviours.

Science Behind Dogs Behavior Like Humans

Dogs can copy behaviours, and understand emotions very well.  Research shows that owners incline towards dogs that remind of themselves, which is not the case always, but researchers have observed that an overweight owner will have an overweight dog.

Dogs observe their owners and understand what works and what not. They are in sync with their facial expressions, and emotions. A stronger bond between the human and dog, the more chances of the dog copying his/her human, which is known as emotional contagion.

Your dog understands the belly rubs and pat on the head for behaving in a good way. He also slowly learns not to disturb you while you are cooking or behave in a certain way to get your attention. Your furry friend uses his/her emotional intelligence and tries to learn things that you like and don’t like.


We hope to have helped you understand how dogs apologize. We have also tried to explain how they know whether they have done something wrong. If you have ever wondered that your dog is an animal copy of you, read the section on ‘Science Behind Dogs Behavior Like Humans’ that talks about a research on the topic.