The Real Reason You Should Never Hit Your Dog

yellow dog looking suspicious

What is that hand going to do to me?

Hitting a dog is a bad idea. Even one of those “Oh it didn’t hurt them,” swats is a bad idea. And here’s why. Dogs notice what things predict. If a hand has ever predicted getting grabbed, scruffed, swatted or worse, the dog learns that sometimes hands do unpleasant things to them. Puppies will learn this quickly, and even older dogs who were never routinely hit will learn quickly that some hands are not to be trusted should they ever be hit. The question for dogs will be to know which hands they need to be worried about. That’s where the danger lies, they may decide that being safe is better than being sorry, and will avoid or even bite any hand reaching for them.

Think about what many people do the first time they meet a dog. Think about what little kids do. They reach out their hand for the dog to get a sniff or give a pet, except that dogs are not mind readers and they don’t know their intentions. A dog who has been reprimanded or corrected by hands, or by something in a hand, may be more inclined to bite hands. Any trainer who suggests that someone uses their hands to do something scary or painful to a dog, whether it’s suppose to imitate another dog’s mouth (which is frankly a load of malarky) or to forcibly restrain or punish the dog, is behaving in a way that as a professional constitutes gross negligence. They should know better. They should know that the very last thing in the world we want is for a dog to have to worry about what a hand is going to do to them.

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2 comments so far

  1. Joanne Davidson on

    My newest rescue has definitely been scruffed and grabbed by the muzzle, probably for barking, as he will not present his face or neck for petting, but instead, presents his rear. If you go straight for his neck he will shrink. Working on desensitizing him to hands around his front. I can’t believe the number of people that believe it is ok to grab pups by the neck to either haul them over or to pick them up. We are NOT mother dogs. In fact, in all my years of breeding I never saw a bitch move her pups this way. They usually nudged them to where they wanted them. I suppose if push came to shove and she needed them moved a distance she might pick them up but it wasn’t her first choice. Humans, on the other hand, might do it daily. Nothing like learning hands are to be avoided from the beginning.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Great of you to help this dog. And don’t forget to add in the counterconditioning piece along with desensitization. Hands are not only ok, they predict fabulous things like cheese.


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