Skip to Content

Will My Dog Forgive Me for Hitting Him?

Will My Dog Forgive Me for Hitting Him?

Dogs are sweet, loyal, and affectionate. Owning one means saying yes to a life of unending joy.

However, once in a while, these adorable creatures can drive us nuts.

Sometimes they pull a fast one on you and you find yourself losing your temper and hitting your canine buddy.

Perhaps he ate your burger without your permission when you were really hungry. Or scratched your toddler badly.

In the heat of the moment, you grabbed a wooden spoon and hit the life out of him.

A few minutes later, the guilt trip begins. You cannot afford to have your dog hold the action against you.

So, the question is, will your dog forgive you for hitting him?

Dog Emotions at a Glance

First things first, let’s explore the topic of emotions among our canine companions.

As a human pet owner, it is easy to imagine that your dog feels all the emotions as you do.

Granted, they do feel some of them but they are less complex than humans.

Some of the emotions felt by dogs include love, fear, distress, and happiness.

Science Daily published a study on this and concluded that dogs don’t really experience deep emotions as humans do.

Things like guilt and forgiveness sound foreign to them. Their cognitive ability is likened to that of a toddler.

Don’t imagine that when your adorable baby gives you a guilt look after making a mistake means he is guilty.

He is probably just responding to you walking in on him or something like that.

Dogs are exactly like that….

When you scream at your pup for ripping your rug apart, he is likely to back off and look submissive.

But don’t for once think that they are displaying feelings of guilt.

Can A Dog Forgive?

While a dog will not necessarily forgive you, he will simply let go of what happened.

As the feelings of guilt rush through your system, he will have moved on.

If you show him affection once more, he will wag his tail, jump all over you, and pet you like nothing ever happened.

So, if you are worried that your fur baby will be mad at you forever, don’t be. He is designed to forget the bad things you do to him.

In short, dogs do forgive but not in the sense of the word.

The Danger of Repeated Hitting

While a dog doesn’t hold a grudge against you for hitting him, the story is different if the pattern of hitting is repeated.

According to Current Biology, a pooch can go back in time and recall certain events and places plus the emotions connected to them.

If you have the habit of hitting your pup all the time, he is likely to recall this well into the future.

Ever rescued a dog from a shelter only to realize he harbors feelings of fear?

Maybe he cannot warm up to you. When you invite him to walk through the door, he will hesitate or refuse to come in until you lift him.

This is the perfect example of a dog that recalls bad experiences that used to take place in his life at some point in his life.

A survey by Applied Animal Behavior Science revealed that things like kicking a dog, hitting him, grabbing him by jowls, “alpha rolling” him, or kicking him triggered a quarter of the dogs to develop an aggressive response. 

All this is to say that while you can get away with occasional hitting, you may not be so lucky if you do it constantly.

Repeated hitting will cause your dog to develop feelings of fear towards you.

Over time, he will resort to other behaviors such as biting back, growling, or become aggressive as defensive mechanisms. These are behaviors that can be hard to do away with.

Apart from inducing fear and aggression in a dog, hitting your canine friend may cause behavior changes such as insecurity. They may urinate as a way to show submission, cower, and develop a low-esteem.

Some of the behaviors can actually go on forever.

How would you like it if your fur baby never walks confidently? Watching him walk around with his tail between his legs will break your heart badly.

Finally, when you hit your pup, it will hurt the bond between you two. He may never trust you again.

Sudden movements are likely to scare him. He may not even grow to his full potential because he spends most of his energy being afraid of you.

Put simply, what you do to your pup today may resonate in your future interactions with him.

 So, your best bet is to build a positive relationship by treating your canine buddy with respect and affection.

How to Earn Your Dog’s Trust Again

If your aggressive behaviour has negatively affected the relationship that you had with your dog, you need to work with him to rebuild the trust.

So, what can you do to win back your doggy’s heart once again?

Well, being kind and loving to your dog is the only sure-fire way to win his trust back.

The act of hitting him is a sign that you haven’t been kind to him enough and now is the time to change things around.

Here are some the things you can do to show your dog that you love them and ultimately regain his trust:

I. Apologize

Dogs generally don’t understand the fuss about saying sorry but they can judge everything by the tone of your voice, your body language, and the look on your face.

Sure, your pup won’t get the meaning of an apology but it will make you feel good.

But resist the temptation of going over to the dog and jumping all over him.

He needs to know that he made a mistake and that doesn’t fly well by you. Let him come to you instead.

When he does, offer gentle words and show affection. That alone will assure him that you still love him and that what happened a while ago was a one-off thing.

As a matter of fact, he may not even recall that by now. And just like that, things may be back to normal again.

II. Spend More Time Doing Fun Activities with Him

After tendering your apology and once you feel your dog is now comfortable around you, the next thing to do is to engage in fun activities with him.

Play with him outside, go hiking or swimming, take him for long walks, help him play with some of his favourite toys, let him have a fulfilling belly rubbing session, etc.

Playing and spending more time together will increase the bond between you and him—helping you regain his trust faster.

Remember that trust always comes when the bond is strong.

III. Accept Your Dog’s Weakness

 Remember that you brought your dog into your life because you fell in love with his doggy attributes.

He can’t reason like your fellow human beings and getting rid of all his doggy traits is going to leave you with a troubled or lesser dog.

Be ready to make peace with some of your dog’s shortcomings and where possible strive to distract him from behaviours that you don’t deem fit.   

IV. Avoid the Temptation of Raising Your Voice Going Forward

While your dog will not remember why you yelled at him the last moment you hit him, he is definitely sensitive to the loudness or any change in the tone of your voice.

If you care about regaining his trust, therefore, avoid raising your voice going forward.

Instead, use a soothing voice to reassure him that there is nothing to fear around you.

V. Leverage Positive Reinforcement Strategies

As things stand now, hitting your dog whenever he does something wrong has not helped much…it has only ruined your relationship with your canine companion.

Now it is time to try other behaviour correction strategies, the best of which is positive reinforcement.

Instead of hitting him, use treats, toys, praise, or anything that he finds rewarding to reinforce positive behaviours.

The positive vibes that he picks from you will make him more likely to repeat the positive behaviours.  

VI. Invest In Basic Obedience Training

Another strategy that you can try, especially if you’ve exhausted the above tips is obedience training.

It will not only change your pup’s behaviour but will also prevent you from experiencing unnecessary emotional outbursts in the future.

VII. Enroll For Anger Management Classes

Probably you’ve been hitting your dog because you have anger control issues.

This may sound harsh but you are not alone—many people have anger problems and you shouldn’t be ashamed of yourself.

The noble thing to do is take responsibility, admit that you may have a problem, and work on resolving it.

Anger management classes will help you learn how to channel your anger and emotions in more productive activities.

The knowledge will help you understand how to deal with your dog’s behaviours and will also benefit many facets of your life.  

Pro Tip:

As you try to regain your dog’s trust, strive to be very patient.

Remember that you cannot force affection on a distrustful dog. If you try, you will only ruin your bond and trust further.

Again, every dog is different. What may work for your friend’s dog may not work for yours.

So, try as many strategies as possible until you find what works for your pup.

Final Thoughts

Dogs don’t deserve to be hit for any reason whatsoever.

However, things happen and you may find yourself guilty of the crime.

If it happens, don’t worry. Simply talk to your baby and assure him that you love them.

Going forward, try all you can to stop the behavior altogether by implementing some of the tips that are covered herein.

But if you still can’t control your anger and still find yourself hitting your canine buddy from time to time, consider giving him for adoption.

Remember that you dog is part of your family, so never allow him to suffer because of your anger problems.

As an Amazon Associate, we may receive a small commission from qualifying purchases but at no extra cost to you. Learn more.  Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.