Seth Meyers Does 'Dog Shaming' Right

The late night host turns the laughs around on people
By Karen B. London PhD, November 2017

Most of us have found humor in some pictures of dogs with signs proclaiming the specifics of their bad behavior, but that is largely because we can relate to the experience. Most of us have had a dog who did something similar, because so many of these behaviors are things that dogs do from time to time: urinating in an inappropriate spot, chewing something such as the remote control or the furniture, getting into the trash, jumping up on someone with muddy paws and drinking out of the toilet.

Laughing rather than crying over these little irritations of life with dogs has its proponents, but I’d rather people share stories without the photos, because dog shaming is not as harmless as many supporters of the practice claim. Many dogs are fearful and stressed in the pictures, perhaps because they are being scolded or are uncomfortable with the placement of the sign or the camera.

They sometimes exhibit submissive behavior that is misinterpreted as “looking guilty”. That is a problem because if people think that dogs look guilty, they are likely to think that the dogs know right from wrong in a moral sense or that the dogs really “know better” than to misbehave as they did. That can promote anger towards the dog, when what the dog most likely needs is more training and for the situation to be managed so the dog doesn’t have the opportunity to perform the undesirable behavior.

I was nervous when I saw the term “extreme dog shaming” in the title of this video from Late Night with Seth Meyers, but I largely enjoyed it once I realized that he had turned dog shaming around to poke fun at people. The confessions in the segment are examples of human behavior that other people generally frown upon. There is also a section in which Seth’s own dog mocks his famous guardian.

How do you feel about dog shaming?

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.