Dogs tend to bite things, it’s in their nature, and most of the time, it’s a harmless habit that’s fun to watch.
If a puppy bites you, then there’s not much to worry about, as you should be able to train that out of them.
If a fully grown dog were to bite you, however, then that can lead to a majority of issues.
No owner wants to feel hurt by their dog or to feel as if their dog doesn’t like them.
It becomes almost natural to question yourself after an event like that, wondering whether or not your dog even feels bad after biting you.
In short, no, a dog cannot truly feel “guilt” in the way that humans do, but that doesn’t mean they can’t feel emotions at all. Understanding why your dog bit you can help you avoid the same issue from repeating itself.
It’s also important to learn about your dog’s emotions and both how/why they feel the way they do, as it can only help to strengthen your relationship.
Can Dogs Read Our Emotions?
Emotions can be far more complex than people usually give them credit for, and they can be a complicated subject when applied to dogs.
What’s quite unknown, however, is that dogs are able to read their owner’s emotions quite well.
A trait developed over the years to help their species better communicate with ours.
Dogs are able to distinguish (at least in their minds) the emotions behind certain actions a human might take.
Laughing and smiling translate to happiness for them, glares and yelling mean anger.
In terms of the emotions a dog can feel, as much as an owner enjoys applying human-like feelings to their dog.
Their spectrum is actually much smaller than ours.
Basic emotions such as fear, anger, happiness, and sadness are universal among animals.
They are simple enough for any sentient being to understand.
Feelings like jealousy, guilt, or pride are more complex, they are a combination of basic emotions and thus, aren’t able to be felt by animals who have lower mental sophistication.
Or at least, dogs can’t comprehend what those emotions really mean and thus whittle them down to their most basic parts to understand them.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
Dogs bite because it is in their nature, without hands like humans, a dog’s mouth is one of the major ways they interact with the world around them.
They use their mouths to pick things up, to carry them around, to eat, to help with teething, and to ward away danger.
While they learn to control their bite as they age, dogs (like humans) can still become slaves to instincts at times.
If someone were to startle a dog, their flight or fight could kick in, retaliating and what they perceive as a threat.
If a dog is hurt and in pain, even someone trying to help might seem like an aggressor.
Some dogs might not understand the power of their jaws either or could get too rough during playtime.
A dog could be attempting to lightly bite their owner, just to initiate fun, but might do it too hard.
There is any number of reasons that a dog might bite their owner.
As long as it doesn’t become a habit, then it shouldn’t be a reason for anything rash.
It should still be handled responsibly, however, and whether it means hiring a trainer or taking your dog to a vet to see if they are in pain.
Some action should be taken to make sure your dog doesn’t bite anyone else.
Do Dogs Feel Bad After They Bite?
As stated before, no, a dog’s mental capacity is not large enough to comprehend an emotion as complex as what we perceive as “guilt”.
This doesn’t mean that a dog can’t understand what they have done or comprehend the situation as a whole, however.
Dogs can still feel basic emotions, and knowing how to read human’s feelings, are able to reciprocate them accordingly.
If a dog were to bite its owner and the owner then became mad while yelling or glaring, the dog would then feel sad.
Its expressions of sadness may just be interpreted as guilt by people, but the dog doesn’t correlate the two events together.
The dog can at least see that they hurt the owner, but won’t necessarily learn to not bite again just because their owner became mad.
Actual training would have to be put in place in order for the two events to be connected in the dog’s head.
So while they can feel sad that their owner looks angry or because they are being yelled at, the dog doesn’t feel, what we consider to be, “guilty.”
How to Train Biting Out of Your Dog
A dog biting its owner is not the end of the world, it is much better than one’s dog biting a random stranger.
This doesn’t mean the event should be completely written off, however, it is still a bad situation that should be resolved so that it doesn’t happen again.
Biting usually happens because of aggression, whether it is falsely perceived or not.
So there are multiple ways it can be trained out of your dog.
Socializing is key, introducing your dog to other people or animals so that it recognizes those who aren’t out to hurt it.
A dog owner should understand their pet and be able to recognize when it is feeling anxious or stressed out.
Find out how to make it feel better, or remove the cause.
Violence is never the way to punish a dog for biting ever, as it will only encourage more aggressive behavior.
Rewarding a dog for acting appropriately is the way to go.
No one wants to see their dog bite someone else out of fear or aggression, or see their dog forced to do so.
Working to understand one’s dog and find out how to best care for it can help to eliminate potential aggression.
While they may not feel “guilt” after biting someone, it is best to always remember that they will still feel sad if their owner is yelling at them.
Always treat your pet with kindness.