Is It Ok To Hit Your Dog (For Discipline)

Dogs are one of the most common household pets in America and across the world.

Over 63 million households across the US own a dog and they have been kept as pets for somewhere between the last 27,000 and 40,000 years.

This shows that dogs are a major part of family life. However, their popularity and (Sometimes) cute nature does not mean that keeping one as a pet is without its struggles.

Is It Ok To Hit Your Dog (For Discipline)

Obviously, dogs do not have the best communication skills, they do not speak english or any other human language so it can be really difficult to know their wants and needs, to discipline them for bad behaviour and to train them. 

Dog’s, especially puppies, can be really excitable which in turn can make them difficult to train.

In order to be a suitable domesticated family pet it is important that dogs are trained to at least some degree in order to not completely destroy the family home or accidentally hurt someone.

Excitable dogs can be particularly jumpy and even rough at times so it can be easy to fall into a habit of responding aggressively out of split second anger and to hit your dog when you are struggling to train them.

However, it is really important to know the problems that this can cause and to understand the impact that this can have on your four legged friend. 

Why Do People Hit Their Dogs?

Similarly, due to the communication barrier that is present between dogs and humans some owners think that hitting their dog is the only way that they will understand that you are telling them that they have been bad or that they are not behaving in the way that you want them to.

People use aggression and violence as a shared language with dogs during training as it is sometimes seen as the quickest and easiest way to teach the dog that they have been bad or responded incorrectly.

What people often fail to realise is that much like with children by using aggression towards your dog you are also teaching him that aggression is acceptable.

Therefore, the more that you hit your dog and behave violently towards him the more that he is going to bite and scratch thus arguably suggesting that hitting your dog is counter productive. 

So, What Exactly Are The Negatives Of Hitting Your Dog?

Hitting your dog can also lead to other issues especially surrounding your pooches mental health.

Just like human beings dogs can experience periods of stress, anxiety and depression and being hit can often cause an episode of this sort of mental health issue.

Poor mental health can have a massive impact on your dog, it can affect their self esteem and make them appear more withdrawn.

This will gradually create more and more distance between your family and your pup which defeats the whole objective of having a dog and of training him to be a family friendly pet.

Their withdrawal from family life may also make it hard to get them up to go on walks or to motivate them to play in the garden with the kids.

There is also an inconvenient side to this issue, one of the most common signs of stress and anxiety in dogs is an upset tummy and diarrhea, especially at night time.

This can lead to your dog having sleepless nights which can then impact on the whole family’s sleeping pattern. ​This can mean that your dog is tired and restless in the day which can lead to further behavioural problems and so the cycle continues. 

If you have children in your house then hitting your dog can also have a majorly negative impact on them too. Extensive research has found that being exposed to any sort of violence can have a negative impact on a child’s mental health, self esteem and future.

The impact of exposure to violence makes children much more likely to experience trauma in later life and to struggle with their own emotions. Similarly, showing aggression towards animals in front of children suggests that violence is okay and a valid way of dealing with emotions.

This can lead to your child learning to express themselves through violence which can have a detrimental impact on their education, social life and future.

Similarly, exposure to violence can also teach children that they too should accept violence from others which can have heart breaking effects.

Therefore, if you have kids, using your dog to model how we treat others, how to deal with emotions and how to ask for things nicely could be a great idea.

Having a pet can be a very educational experience for children providing that the pet is cared for correctly. 

Breaking Old Habits

If you have previously hit your dog as part of training then this does not make you a bad person or even a bad pet owner, rather it simply means that there is room for improvement.

Finding new ways to train and discipline your pup can be hard especially when you have always used the same method previously. However, there are other much more effective ways of disciplining your four legged friend.

Below we have compiled a list of alternative methods which hopefully you will find useful and be able to implement into your daily life. 

Alternative Ways To Discipline Your Dog

Distract– Sometimes distraction can be just as good as punishment when it comes to correcting negative behaviour or training when they are not understanding commands and become confused.

Redirecting your dog can work wonders as it can remind him of more positive things to do with his time and give him time to gather his thoughts. It can also start to break the cycle of negative behaviour. 

Isolation– Sometimes dogs misbehave or ignore commands in order to get attention so putting your dog in isolation can show him that misbehaving is not an effective way of getting this and that positive behaviour brings positive rewards.

Isolation could include putting your dog in another room or in his cage. 

Put Down–  Although hitting and physical violence are not good ways of dealing with negative behaviour or of training your pup this does not mean that you can not physically intervene at all.

The put down method involves gently but quickly pushing your dog over onto his back or side and leaning over him.

This helps to reinforce your dominance which is important when it comes to looking after and training a dog as without dominance dogs will misbehave more and more.

It is still important that you do not hurt your dog and that you do this in a safe manner and only in places where he is not going to get injured.

Squirt Bottles– Using squirt bottles or water guns to spray your dog while saying “no” or “down” or giving a command can be an effective way of discipling your dog and getting him to listen to you.

Unfortunately, the one issue with this is that many dogs actually think that this is a fun game.

One way around this issue could be to mix in some vinegar, the suggested amount is one part vinegar to six parts water. 

Command Him To Sit– Commanding your dog to sit is one of the basics when it comes to training.

It can also be effective when he is misbehaving is once again a good distraction as if he immediately listens to you this will make him stop whatever negative behaviour he was engaging in.

Commanding your dog to sit also once again helps to establish dominance over him and should help to cast his mind back to the training basics. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, it is fair to say that the negatives of hitting your dog by far outweigh the positives. Therefore, it is important to find more effective and less damaging ways of discipling and training him.

The list above should be able to give you some great pointers and help you to find your feet when it comes to effective discipline.

Finally, it is important to be patient as training and disciplining your dog can be hard work especially when you are using new methods but we promise you that it will be worth it.

Daniel Johnson