Can Dogs Feel Embarrassed?

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You know better than anyone that your dog can feel all kinds of emotion - happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, even guilt. But that might lead you to wonder what else your dog might be feeling. 

For example, can your dog be embarrassed? In a way, yes. Your dog might not be able to feel the social humiliation the way a person does, but they definitely can feel self-conscious and have subtle, embarrassed-like tendencies.  

Secondary emotions like embarrassment can be complicated when it comes to pets, but they definitely feel something similar to it. Because we can't just ask our pets if they're embarrassed, we can only go off of subtle behavior cues to try to determine how they feel. Want to know what signs to look for to determine if your pet is embarrassed (or something like it)? We've got you covered. Check out our guide below!

Signs Your Dog is Embarrassed

Just like with humans, dogs give off pretty obvious signs that they're feeling sheepish or ashamed, you just have to know what to look for. Often, dogs will let you know they're embarrassed by how they carry themselves. 

Take a look at your dog after they've done something goofy. Do they have a hard time meeting your eyes? Do they have submissive behavior? Are they acting shy and sheepish? That's a pretty good indicator that your little pup is feelin' kind of embarrassed. 

They also might tuck their tails, walk funny, pin their ears down, furrow their brows, cower a little, or even hide! Seriously, dogs have been known to hide when they're feeling funky about something. They might get jealous, get angry, or even show signs of distress if they're embarrassed - just like people!

Body Language

Want more signs to watch out for? If your dog is embarrassed or humiliated, you might notice they do some of these things:
  • Cowering
  • Ears drop
  • Averting eyes
  • Tail tucking

Other Signs

There are other things to look out for, too. If your dog is embarrassed, it's possible they'll do some of these things as well:
  • Hiding
  • Rolling Around
  • Exhibit Submissive Behavior
  • Change Their Posture
  • Anxiousness

The History of Embarrassed Dogs

Historically, scientists and researchers disagree on what doggy embarrassment really means and the extent that it affects dogs. Some researchers, like canine behavior specialist Dr. Marc Bekoff, think that dogs definitely have feelings of embarrassment or shyness. He thinks they can even feel humiliation. After observing dogs for thousands of hours for his career, he's pretty dead-set. 

Other scientists don't always agree though, staying that Bekoff is missing a few details about doggy synapses with his opinion. The traditional idea is that dogs are only instant-reaction kind of animals with emotions based on that stimuli - the idea of embarrasment, a complicated, secondary, and human emotion, isn't always something that scientists can agree on.

The Science Behind Dog Embarrassment

Embarrassment is a complex emotion, right? A lot of people believe that it's simply a human emotion, but is that true? Can dog's get embarrassed, too? 

Lots of researchers disagree, and because we can't ask our dogs, it can be hard to determine the truth. Normal, scientific thought might state that because dogs are instant-reaction creatures, they might not be capable of such emotions and that such emotional reach is far beyond their spectrum. 

Doggy brains are hard to pin down, and while we can't really assign a direct answer, the closest we can get to answering the question of dog dogs get embarrassed is something along the lines of "maybe."

Training Your Dog to Deal With Their Embarrassment

All dogs are different, that's pretty clear. So, some dogs might be more likely to feel embarrassed than others. If your dog is feeling embarrassed, they might exhibit signs of distress or anger. 

The best thing you can do to help your dog deal with this is to train out their negative behaviors. If your pup is distressed from their embarrassment, train them to resort to their safe crate until they feel better. If your dog is inclined to hide when they're embarrassed, train them to run to their crate for that, too. That way you won't spend hours looking for them and wondering about their safety. 

Your dog also might get angry when they're embarrassed. Commands like "no" and "stop" are important in this situation. Even if they're angry from being embarrassed, they don't need to misbehave.

How to React if You've Got an Embarrassed Dog

  • Comfort your poor, embarrassed pup.
  • Give your doggo attention to help them get over it.
  • Make them go to their crate if they're behaving badly because of their embarrassment.
  • Teach them basic commands to help them control their emotional responses.
  • If they're going to hide, teach them to go to their safe crate to do so.
  • Give your pup lots of pats and love to help them get over their embarrassment.

We Want to Hear About Your Embarrassed Pooch!