I know I’ve read and researched enough about dogs at this point to know that the “guilty looking dog” is more human psychological fabrication than it is documented fact. I know that when people come home to a shredded sofa or a pee-stained carpet and see a “guilty” canine face hiding in the corner, that it has nothing to do with the dog “knowing it did something wrong” and everything to do with the dog’s ability to anticipate reactions and associate those reactions with their respective person arriving home at the same time every day given a particular context.
I know that in reality, when my dogs look at me like this, it’s because I’ve established a pattern of behavior that they now associate with me interrupting them mid-play and have now learned to act and look accordingly because they are more attuned to my emotions and habits, sadly, than I am. I know this.
But seriously, I doubt there’s an Academy Award winner out there, let alone a human five-year old, who could so effortlessly and accurately reproduce this finely-tuned combined projection of guilt, defiance, and entitlement.