Why Hitting Dogs Is Unacceptable
The main reason why a dog should not be hit is because it is unjust. Dogs are loyal companions and unlike humans, they are not of a vindictive nature. When dogs upset owners, it is very likely not because he or she is being unruly or naughty, rather, dogs simply act as nature intended them to. They will not stop engaging in a behavior simply because they do not understand our standards and rules.
It is up to the owner, therefore, to provide guidance and leadership, which can be accomplished effectively in a non-confrontational way through positive reinforcement training. This type of training basically focuses on praising for good behaviors and ignoring the bad behaviors. Owners that are unable to teach their dogs through effective training methods and resort to hitting dogs must be educated about the negative effects hitting has on the dog and the overall dog-owner relationship. Following are several reasons why a dog should not be hit.
1. It Hurts
There is unfortunately still a myth that dogs, in particular, ''bully dogs'' do not feel pain and that they should be hit to get 'tough' and learn manners. Dogs are equipped by a nervous system just as humans, and as such, they feel pain in the same manner. Some dogs may not show their pain by yelping, but they may suffer without showing it. Hitting a dog may also cause serious injuries and emotional scars.
2. It Induces Fear Biting
When dogs are hit they develop fear towards their owner. The hitting may ultimately backfire the owner once the dog becomes fearful and resorts to biting back in order to defend himself. At this point, congratulations for having created a fearful biter: this a major behavioral issue that may be difficult to eradicate (hundreds of dogs are put down by shelters each year because of being fearful biters).
Not too long ago, a survey published by Applied Animal Behavior Science showed that actions such as hitting or kicking a dog, “alpha rolling” a dog, grabbing a dog by jowls and shaking evoked a defensive aggressive response from at least a quarter of the dogs on which these aversion-based techniques were attempted.
3. It Causes Behavior Changes
On top of potentially evoking defensive aggression, hitting dogs may cause them to become insecure. They may cower, engage in submissive urination and have a low self-esteem. They may no longer walk with their heads high, they will rather walk with their tail between their legs and their head carried low. They may become particularly apprehensive, nervous, excessively submissive and live their life in fear.
4. It Hurts the Bond
Dogs that are hit will not trust their owners. Owners should be the ultimate source of trust and guidance. Battered dogs instead may cower upon being pet and may get scared of sudden movements. They will not grow to their full potential because too much energy will be spent living in fear of their owners.
5. It Is Misunderstood
If owners think that they are confirming their ''alpha status'' by hitting their dogs they are totally wrong. Dogs don't think this way. Modern training has debunked the alpha myth as we are not dogs, and dogs are not wolves. David Mech, with his studies on wolves on Ellesmere Island proved this. Intrigued? You can read more about this here: David Mech's Theory on the Alpha Role. So if you really want to form a bond with your dog, you want to build trust not fear.
Hitting a dog is basically telling him/her "I am dog training illiterate, I am hitting you because I do not have the necessary skills to teach you in a positive, more acceptable manner''. Hitting a dog is also basically putting a dog to fail, dogs do not understand what is wanted from them and will grow in a fearful, unjust and often misunderstood world.
For Further Reading
- How Dogs Use Body Posture to Communicate Assertivene...
Dogs are generally natural conflict solvers, in other words, they will most likely try to avoid a fight as much as they can without resorting to aggression. In the wild, it takes too much energy to fight when there are more important priorities...
- Differences and Similarities Between Dogs and Wolves
wolves and dog similarities, jak, morguefile.com Dog and wolf: two different species but yet, so much in common. Dogs were originally classified as ''Canis familiaris '' by Linnaeus in 1758. However, later in 1993, dogs were reclassified as a...
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2009 Adrienne Janet Farricelli