Why does my dog do things he KNOWS are wrong?

The answer is simple … your dog does not know those things are wrong! Let’s say you arrive home to see your new rug chewed to bits and your dog lying in the wreckage looking “guilty”. It is easy to assume the dog “knows” that chewing the rug was wrong, right? Not so fast. What is really happening is this; dogs are incredibly visual animals and are highly attuned to our body language, mannerisms and even our breathing patterns. When you enter a room and see your new rug destroyed, you immediately become justifiably upset. Your dog has learned over time that when those changes in your behavior occur it means nothing good for them! So when you enter the room, the only thing the dog “knows” is that you are upset - he has no idea that it is connected with the rug, which is by now a long forgotten memory for him. Knowing that you are upset, the dog acts “contrite” because he has also learned that behaving that way is advantageous to him when you are angry. As dog owners we need to understand this, because in assuming your dog “knows” he did something wrong, you also assume he is a “bad” dog and should’ve known better. If you don’t want your rug chewed up, it is your job to teach your dog what the appropriate things to chew on ARE (toys, rawhide bones, Kongs etc.) and reinforce your dog for chewing on those items so that they become his preferred chew items. Unless you catch your dog in the act of chewing the rug (or whatever), you can’t do anything to correct him … he just will not understand and he will not learn anything from your actions except that you are not being kind. If you do catch your dog in the act, do not use physical punishment, please! Making a loud, low “Eh!” sound or shaking a soda can with some coins inside of it will interrupt your dog’s behavior and allow you to redirect him onto a behavior that is acceptable.