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Science & Tech

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Dogs clueless to shame, behaviorists insist

– The next time you start shaking your finger and shouting “Shame on you!” because your dog chewed up your favorite fuzzy slippers, just remember that no matter how guilty your dog looks, it doesn’t know what your rant is about.

Behaviorists insist dogs lack shame. The guilty look – head cowered, ears back, eyes droopy – is a reaction to your tantrum now over damage they did hours earlier.

“Just get over it and remind yourself not to put temptation in the way next time,” said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a professor at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

But scientific findings have not put a dent in the popularity of websites such as dogshaming.com and shameyourpet.com or videos such as those at youtube.com/crackrockcandy. In the photos and videos, dogs wear humorous written “confessions” and often are surrounded by the remnants of their misdeeds. There is no question that in some photos, they look guilty of eating, drinking, chewing or destroying something they shouldn’t have.

Dogshaming.com was the first and is among the most popular of these sites. Since Pascale Lemire started it in August 2012, it has received more than 58 million page views and more than 65,000 submissions. A submission has to come with a photo showing the dog’s guilty look.

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