Scientists Have Finally Figured Out Why Your Dog Looks Guilty

By: Joe Hyer

April 18, 2017

Your dog does something wrong, and he responds by giving you a really sad look. Those really sad eyes with his head leaning down quite a bit. If you have a dog, you know this situation all too well.

Animal behaviorists have called it an "apology bow." We love seeing these photos when we enjoy looking at dog shaming photos online.

Nathan H. Lents, a New York City-based biologist, says that the apology bow can actually be credited back to your dog's ancestors, wolves. The findings were revealed in a piece he wrote for Psychology Today this week.

So how does it all work? Well, a wolf that bites too hard is banished from his social unit for a period of time. 

"In order to be reintroduced, the offending wolf must approach with an apology bow," Lents explains. 

Lents says that dogs have inherited this behavior. 

"As social animals, they crave harmonious integration in the group and neglect or isolation is painful for them," he wrote

So is your dog apologizing or is he just offering an act of submission? Lents says that it is probably both. 

"In a sense, an apology is indeed an expression of submission. 'I was wrong; you were right.' Nothing could be more submissive than that," he explains.