Why Hitting Dogs Is Unacceptable
Hitting Dogs Is Unjust
The main reason why a dog should not be hit is because it is unjust. Dogs are loyal companions—and unlike humans, they do not have 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 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 effect this punishment has on the dog and on 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—particularly ''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.
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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.
Questions & Answers
How should one go about training dogs to not bite?
If they are puppies, you just teach them to interact with you in alternate ways and reward them. For instance, you can train them to target your hands versus biting you, you can train them to sit and then you toss them a ball or kibble, you train them to play with toys and praise them for that. If you are talking about adult, older dogs, you see a professional for help. Hitting dogs for biting will only cause more stress and will cause an escalation of the biting and defensive behavior-this is proven by research.Helpful 37
© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli