Will My Dog Forgive Me for Hitting Him?

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Will My Dog Forgive Me for Hitting Him

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

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 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 them 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.

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 stay 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 the 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.

How to Earn Trust Again

Your doggie just stole the Thanksgiving turkey from the kitchen counter. He’s tearing it apart right before your eyes.

In a moment of rage, you lash out at the dog, screaming at him and yelling at the top of your voice. You even go as far as locking him out of the house.

After five minutes, you are calmer and feel terrible for what you have done? Did you destroy the great working relationship with your canine buddy? What should you do?

The best thing to do in this situation is to open the door and let the dog come in. Once indoors, speak to them in a calm assuring voice.

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.

Go ahead and apologize. Sure, your pup won’t get it but it will make you feel good. However, 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. Just like that, things will be back to normal again.

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.

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Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.