So, you snapped and smacked your pooch, now you’re wondering, will my dog forgive me for hitting him?
The honest answer is almost definitely yes. However, before you get too comfortable, we need to look into the topic of smacking dogs, as it often causes controversy and arguments.
There’s also the question of biology: dogs aren’t humans, and they don’t think the same way!
Will My Dog Forgive Me For Hitting Him? The Truth
It’s a scientific fact that dogs don’t have the mental capacity for forgiveness. To dogs, everything seems black and white: their world is ruled by cause and effect: if they have a bad experience, they try to avoid it in the future.
Dogs also have no concept of right and wrong. Again, if they get caught doing a bad thing, they are likely to incur your wrath. And if you yell at Fido or even smack him for ripping your sofa cushion to shreds, he’ll perhaps make the connection between the two things, but it won’t necessarily stop him next time.
So, no, dogs won’t actually forgive you because they don’t understand the concept. However, the minute you tell your dog that it’s a good boy or girl, all will be well between you.
Dogs are sensitive creatures, and they pick up on our moods all the time. Even so, the tone of your voice has the biggest effect, no matter what words you use.
Although your furry best friend may hesitate to approach you right away after being smacked, he’ll soon be wagging that tail and covering you with kisses.
The Ups And Downs Of Being A Pet Parent
Sharing your life and home with a dog is a wonderful privilege and a daunting responsibility simultaneously.
Some days, you’re overwhelmed by the love and affection they offer and all the fun and laughter. It can be a challenge on other days, as your pooch pushes all the wrong buttons. Even the best dog in the world can do the wrong thing sometimes!
Perhaps you had one of those days? Maybe your doggy pal pushed its luck and wolfed down the snack you left on the kitchen counter for literally two minutes? Or perhaps they broke a favorite vase, chewed up your best shoes, dug up your perfect flower beds, or had a bathroom accident all over your expensive rug.
One of these scenarios, or something similar, possibly drove you to hit your dog. And now you’re racked with guilt over it.
You want to know, will my dog forgive me for hitting him (or her)?
We’ve begun to explore this subject, but let’s go further and discover the facts about dog behavior and physical punishment.
Do Dogs Forgive You If You Hit Them?
As we now know, dogs can’t actually forgive you, but they understand when you’re angry and when you’re not.
As for getting over being hit, it all depends on whether this was a one-off incident or a pattern of behavior. You may have smacked your pooch out of anger and frustration, instantly regretting it afterward.
This is understandable, though never ideal or acceptable.
Let’s be clear from the start: kicking, punching, spanking, or hitting your dog with a stick, slipper, or any other hard object is abusive behavior, especially if it happens regularly.
Aside from breaking animal welfare laws, it strongly suggests that you have no right to own a dog in the first place.
Leader Of The Pack
Dogs are social animals with a pack mentality and instinct. They love company and have been bred especially to thrive in the company of humans.
You, or someone in your home, will take on the role of the alpha, the pack leader. Your dog’s love and devotion will be undying.
In many cases, it could even be described as pathetic. This isn’t an insult: some dogs will return to their owners for love and approval again and again, even after constantly being beaten.
It’s all part of their instinct to please the alpha, which is pathetic in the true sense of the word.
Anger Is Weakness
Research has proved that dogs regard anger as a sign of weakness. If you are constantly angry with your dog and use smacking as a training method, you will lose your dog’s trust and respect.
The trouble is that your relationship becomes based on fear, which is the last thing that any true dog lover wants.
So, yes, your pooch will forgive you if you slip up one day and smack them. Just don’t make a habit of it, or you could permanently damage your relationship.
Will my dog forgive me for hitting him? Yes, if it was done on the spur of the moment and doesn’t happen frequently.
Do Dogs Remember If You Hit Them?
They don’t carry it around with them all the time as a bad and painful memory, but they sure remember it if the same set of circumstances arises.
We’ve all seen a guilty dog before. They know when they’ve done something bad, usually by the tone of your voice, and they’re probably expecting some kind of reprisal. And if you used physical punishment the last time, they’ll scoot off and hide the moment they see you.
In many cases, it’s not even related to being smacked: they recall the scolding you gave them the last time they dug out the contents of the trash can or whatever the misdemeanor was.
Violence Is Never An Effective Deterrent
Note that, despite the punishment, it rarely deters them from repeating the crime! This is a pretty good argument against physical punishment.
As mentioned above, dogs easily ‘forgive’ and forget until they find themselves in the same scenario that resulted in a smacking the last time around.
You can tell when a dog feels anxious by looking at its body language:
• Drooping or flicking tail
• Half sitting or unable to sit in one place
• Excessive yawning
• Unwilling to make eye contact
• Staring at the wall or a fixed point on the floor
• Licking their lips
These are sure signs of your furry friend’s guilt, and most of us will see them sometime during our dog’s life.
And if they suspect that they’re in for a smack, they’ll do this all the more.
Dogs Are Sensitive!
As we’ve already said, although dogs are intelligent, they don’t usually connect the crime with the punishment. Instead, they pick up on your vibes as they are sensitive to our mood changes. Their body language is often a response to your emotions and reaction when you discover the devastation.
So, dogs don’t often remember precisely what happened; they just know that you’re not happy about something. And if they got a smack the last time around, they’ll be anxious to avoid another.
I hit my dog; will he forgive me?
Yes, if it only happened the one time, although your dog may be fearful for a while if they sense that you’re angry.
Will My Puppy Forgive Me For Hitting Them?
Yes, as long as it’s a one-off and you don’t resort to frequent spanking!
All dog breeds mature at different times, some as early as six months, others as late as two years. During this time, they are developing physically and mentally, and they’ll need to be trained on how to behave as an adult.
Puppies need guidance and discipline. While they’re with their mother, she teaches them how to behave. If one gets too boisterous with its siblings or oversteps a boundary, she will nudge or nip them on the rump to correct them.
When they leave their mother, you must take up the responsibility of teaching this little furball some basic manners.
Taking Over As Mom
Does that mean you have a license to use physical violence to discipline your puppy? Well, no, actually. You are a human being with other methods and means available to you, and you have choices.
Also, bear in mind that most pups are tiny, and you’re much bigger than they are. A smack on the nose or the rump might seem nothing to you, but they’ll definitely feel it!
Remember: the bond between you and your dog is being formed at this early stage. If you resort to smacking to get your point across, you could cause irreparable psychological damage.
Training your puppy can be an experience that would try the patience of a saint. Some breeds are easier than others, but they all respond well to positive reinforcement.
Do Dogs Hold Grudges If You Hit Them?
Dogs just aren’t built that way. They react in the moment with an emotional response that sends them scurrying into their bed or hiding in a dark corner for a while, but they usually get over it pretty soon.
However, there are two things to keep in mind:
• Abused dogs often have trust issues. When they feel threatened, they may react badly. So, if you smack them, there’s a good chance they’ll bite.
• If you continually use smacking as a means of correction, you will form a fear-based relationship.
Although they don’t hold grudges, dogs will change their behavior after a while if frequently hit. It isn’t that they fully understand the link between their crime and the punishment; they simply learn that they may get a smack when you’re angry.
I Hit My Dog, Will It Trust Me Again?
As we said in other sections, it depends on whether this was the first time or whether this is a regular pattern. It also depends on how hard you hit and whether you used your hand or a stick.
Dogs learn pretty quickly and will start to recognize a pattern of behavior. Still, it’s unlikely they’ll link their own behavior with the punishment.
However, they learn even quicker if they get a reward for doing something good!
If you snapped and hit your dog, don’t fret too much. Once they see that you’re happy, you’ll notice that tail start to wag.
Trust between a dog and its owner can be easily damaged, but it can also be rebuilt. The best thing is to avoid doing anything to destroy that trust in the first place.
Aggressive Dogs And Bad Behavior
Sadly, dog aggression is a serious issue that can result in the dog being euthanized in severe cases. A lack of training and proper socialization, poor breeding practice, and deliberate aggression training all lead to dogs that are difficult to manage.
These dogs will have behavioral problems of some kind, and these will only be worsened if physical punishment is used to train and correct them.
Although some breeds have a reputation for aggression, the owners and breeders are primarily to blame. While some breeders strive to reduce aggression, others value gameness – an inbuilt instinct to fight to the death.
This trait is particularly favored in Pit Bull breeds, which is one of the reasons why these dogs have a reputation for being aggressive.
Using physical punishment on these dogs only adds to the cycle of aggression.
Many abused dogs that wind up in shelters and rescues will be aggressive. Even so, thousands of them have overcome the problem through the patience and diligence of foster carers.
Conclusion: Dogs respond better to reward-based training methods.
Positive Training Vs. Physical Punishment
Advocates of smacking tend to scoff at positive training methods, but these have proven to be far more effective than physical violence.
Old-school dog trainers and breeders still endorse hitting dogs as part of their training techniques, and this is outdated, cruel, and, more often than not, counterproductive.
While it may get results in the short term, it can cause untold psychological damage. In some cases, it even leads to the owner getting bitten. Constant punishment almost always results in behavioral changes, rarely for the better!
Years ago, it was believed that dogs respect the pack leader and expect some level of anger and aggression. Smacking a dog, especially on the snout, was an acceptable form of correction.
Yelling Doesn’t Help!
Constantly yelling at a dog is no substitute for proper training. Most dogs are smart enough to learn several key command words that can be used firmly if needed. You don’t need to shout; raising your voice slightly will be enough.
Using harsh words and continually shouting at a dog only serves to raise a confused and nervous pup. And smacking them for wrongdoing will have even worse results.
Challenging The Alpha
People also believed that bad behavior in dogs was an attempt to challenge the pack leader’s authority. However, recent studies have shown that this is probably not the case. Although some breeds try to take over, most are happy with the status quo.
It’s interesting to note, as we learned earlier, that dogs see anger as a sign of weakness. So, a dog that challenges the alpha is more likely to try to assume that position if you hit them out of anger, especially if this is a frequent event.
One of the most despicable forms of punishment for dogs is rubbing their nose in their urine or feces if they go inside the house. As we’ve seen, dogs don’t usually connect the punishment with the crime, so they end up confused and afraid.
Rewarding good behavior instead of punishing bad is overwhelmingly regarded as the best way forward. If you want to earn your dog’s trust, you need to use positive reinforcement to train them. Physical punishment and negative reinforcement should be left in the past, where it belongs.
Positive Reinforcement Is Best!
You’ll come across comments on social media and doggy forums that mock positive reinforcement or claim that it’s ‘rubbish.’
Some will state that hitting dogs is an effective and necessary training method, especially for aggressive dogs. Most (but not all) of these will be written by men who believe they are being assertive as an alpha male.
As we’ve seen, the evidence doesn’t support this: dogs see anger as weakness, and aggression breeds aggression. And anyone who calls themself an alpha male is generally anything but that.
Dogs thrive on reward-based training and a heap of love.
Will My Dog Forgive Me For Accidently Hurting Him?
Photo from: @evertpembrokecorgi
It’s little consolation, but accidents happen!
There aren’t many things that come close to the feeling of accidentally hurting your furry best pal. You hear the yelp of pain, see the hurt in their eyes, and hate yourself for doing it.
This is a sign of how much you love your puppy, and that’s perhaps a good thing. Someone who hurts their dog and doesn’t give two hoots about it is someone who doesn’t deserve a dog in their life.
But will your dog forgive you? As we’ve seen, forgiveness is alien to dogs, but they’ll forgive in their own unique way.
Hopefully, the damage isn’t too bad: perhaps you trod on a paw or clipped a nail too short. Your dog will heal very soon, but it doesn’t take away your guilt!
Take comfort in the fact that your dog won’t hold a grudge or feel that you were punishing them. Their minds don’t work that way.
Within minutes, your pup will be coming to you for cuddles. If they can quickly forget the incident, perhaps you should, too? Just try to be a little bit more careful in future!
Conclusion: Will My Dog Forgive Me For Hitting Him?
For the most part, we can say yes: your beloved pooch won’t hold a grudge, and they’ll come for a cuddle as soon as they see that you’re no longer angry.
If this indeed was a one-off incident, try not to beat yourself up. Millions of pet owners find themselves in similar circumstances, and sometimes stress gets the better of us.
No, lashing out and hitting your dog when you’re in a rage is never ideal, but it happens. Learn from the experience and move on – in all likelihood, your furry best friend has done so already!
Get Help When You Need It!
However, if this is a repeated pattern you need some assistance, as something is clearly not right. Perhaps your dog’s consistently lousy behavior is driving you insane? Consider contacting a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist, as they can guide you.
Remember, positive reinforcement is the best method of dog training. If your puppy really tests your patience, send them to bed for a time-out. This will help you to cool down and will be punishment enough for the dog, as they will be deprived of your company.
Finally, we’ll ask again, will my dog forgive me for hitting him?
Unless you’re someone who beats their dog often, your pooch is absolutely devoted to you. If you smacked them out of anger, learn from the situation and try to teach your dog how to behave using positive methods.
One thing you can guarantee: if this was an isolated, one-off incident, your furry pal would have forgotten about it in the time it took you to read this!
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