How Dogs Say Sorry to Humans? How Do Dogs Apologize?

Did you come home after a long day at work and find your home in disarray? Were your favorite slippers chewed up, or did you find your couch cushions ripped to shreds? If so, you may be one of many dog owners that have the misfortune of owning a misbehaved fur baby.

However, while you may feel disappointment and anger because of your destroyed items, the love for your puppy is still strong, especially when they put on their sad face with sympathetic eyes.

how dogs say sorry to humans
How dogs say sorry to humans? How do dogs apologize?

Once the remorse from the mistake comes, your dog may start to show signs of being apologetic.

How Do Dogs Express Remorse?

While dogs may not be able to express embarrassment outwardly, they are often able to read emotions and the change in the tone of voice. In reaction to this, they may show changes in their actions.

You may not see the remorse from your dog after they have committed the worst destruction in your home, but often, the feeling of guilt and shame may appear in your dog’s behavior if they have messed up.

Feeling remorseful, your dog may seem a little anxious from the frustration they have caused. Because of this, there may also be many other ways in which your dog will show remorse.

Just like some humans seem to gravitate towards animals, some dogs are better at communicating remorse to their owners.

Apology Bow

Depending on how strong the reprimand caused by their bad behavior is, that reprimand may lead them to hang their head, with a feeling of isolation. 

dog bows his head
The dog bows his head as a sign of an apologetic behavior.

The “apology bow,” a trait picked up by wolves, is used by dogs to tell their owners that they know they messed up and that their owners are more powerful than them.


Depending on the amount of trouble caused or damage done, your dog may express guilt for its wrongdoing. They may feel so guilty that a whimper of worry will come. If your dog begins to feel guilty about their wrongdoing, they could rub against your legs while getting into your space and letting out a whimper.

Chihuahua rubbing legs
Chihuahua rubbing owner’s legs.

Usually, with the repeated whimper of needing forgiveness, dog owners will eventually have a change of heart and forgive their dogs for the mistake by petting them and giving them the assurance they are back in the pack.


Once your dog realizes they have crossed the line, the immediate need to lick you as their apology may begin. Nuzzling next to your neck and licking it is their ultimate mess-up apology that may leave you not only stunned but also help you forget all about the mistake that caused chaos.

dog licks her little girl owner
A dog licks her owner to to show some affection and to express her needs.

A gentle lick is also their guarantee that they want to give you as much attention as possible for being bad and let you know they are submissive.

Big Eyes

Nothing says, “I’m sorry,” like big apologetic eyes with a look of guilt and concern. Usually, when your dog has given you these sad eyes, it is because their behavior has grown unacceptable, and they are trying to find their way back into your good graces. 

blue eyed Weimaraner puppy
A blue eyed Weimaraner puppy lays on the ground.

Avoiding Eye Contact

While many dogs may show their apologetic nature with their big sympathetic eyes, others may avoid eye contact when reprimanded.

Aussiedoodle looks away from the field
Aussiedoodle looks away from the windy field.

Avoiding eye contact can also be a sign of apologizing for their trouble. In addition, the lack of eye contact with a cowered head could make you reconsider being angry at them and help your dog become more aware of when they have crossed the line.

Hiding Their Face

If your dog has destroyed something beyond repair or caused some other type of problem in your home, then the frustration and disappointment that follows may cause them to hide their face in their paws.

Border Collie
Border Collie covers face while lying on the floor.

High anxiety and stress may also be the reason your dog hides their face after getting in trouble.

The Wagging Tail

If your dog has been causing a lot of trouble lately, it may wag its tail to express its apology. Whether they are playing around or accidentally breaking your stuff, your dog will express automatic guilt if they sense your unhappiness, and one main way to do this is by wagging their tail.

American Hairless Terrier looks curious on a photo shoot
An American Hairless Terrier looks curious on a photo shoot!

The wagging tail might not be as effective at melting your heart as the big apology eyes or the cowering head, but it will let you know that your dog senses your emotions and is aware that their bad deed has gotten them into trouble. Your dog may also wag their tail if they are anxious or nervous.

The Walk of Shame

After causing all kinds of ruckus in your home and aggravating you, your dog may have finally gotten on your last nerve. Because of this, they may begin the walk of shame, which means their tipped ears, bowed head, and slow walk toward you is their indication of guilt

German Shepherd approaches owner
German Shepherd approaches owner to express his apology.

This non-verbal acknowledgment of wrongdoing is also their way of apologizing and asking for forgiveness. 

To make your dog feel at ease about giving your forgiveness, it is crucial to acknowledge their behavior affirmatively and quickly. You should also greet them with a kind but firm response while assuring you are not angry at their bad behavior. 

Dogs Can Read Human Emotions

Over time, you and your puppy may have grown a close-knit bond, which means that they may be able to sense when you are in a good mood or bad mood. Dogs can be very strong at sensing emotions and, in return, may change their emotions to prepare for whatever happens. For some dogs, this could mean being more excited, anxious, and nervous than usual. It could even mean misbehaving. 

cream colored Chow Chow
A cream coated Chow Chow looks happy!

Unfortunately, dogs may feel some emotion when it comes to behaving in a certain way but their understanding of the extent of damage done or high emotions is not easily understood. Even though your dog may not be aware of every emotion, they are aware of when they are in trouble or being reprimanded. This is why they work so hard to get back in your good graces.

Helpful Tips on Reprimanding Your Dog

With your dog being more than you can handle, you may not always know the best way to reprimand them. So knowing some helpful tips on how to keep your dog in a well-behaved state will help immensely.

Give Them a Time-Out

Did your dog do something bad? If your dog has caused a problem in your home for the last time, but you don’t want to be extremely hard on them, putting them in time-out will let them know that their behavior is unacceptable. Time-out will also help you assess any other issues you may have noticed with your fur baby.

Pitbull with necklace sits on a blanket
A Pitbull with necklace sits on a blanket.

Use a Firm Tone

Even though you may not want to be hard on your pet, it is important for them to know that their bad behavior will not be tolerated, especially if something is broken or someone is injured because of it. So, using a firm and assertive tone is the best when dealing with a dog that has gotten unruly. It’s also important to reprimand them right away so they understand the reason.

woman talking to her dog
A woman talking to her dog with love.

Take Away Their Toys

Your dog’s most prized possession is its toys and they expect to continue to keep them regardless of their behavior. However, after your dog has a naughty day with a lot of chaos and disruption, taking their toys away will let them know you are serious about being upset about their behavior. Taking their toys away will also let them know you are the boss.

Miniature Dachshund bites a toy
A Miniature Dachshund bites a toy held by his owner.

Final Thoughts

Even though your dog may get on your nerves sometimes, their love and affection for you will never change. While, sometimes, it can be a nuisance to try to make sure your dog stays on their best behavior, understanding their nature and apologetic behavior will be well worth it.