As much as we love our furry friends, they don’t always behave like we’d want them to.
With this in mind, I think we can all agree that getting mad at our dogs at some point is an inevitability.
While you may feel bad afterward, it’s important to know that it’s normal for dog owners to become frustrated- and even angry at times- with their dogs.
Whether they got into the garbage when you weren’t looking, gnawed on all the electrical wires outside, or chewed your favorite pair of AirPods; your dog can sometimes be a naughty, troublesome little gremlin capable of causing a range of negative reactions.
Some owners may revert to yelling at their dogs to discipline them, while others simply ignore them and send them, tails tucked, to their crate or kennel.
However, the question is: Exactly how long should you be mad at your dog?
How do you know if you’ve gone overboard when it comes to punishing your pup for bad behavior?
According to many dog trainers and behavioral experts, you should not be mad at your dog for longer than one minute.
Even if that seems like a tiny duration, it’s important to keep in mind that while dogs are intelligent creatures they realistically have the attention span of a 2-3 year old human child.
This means prolonging your wrath and being angry or upset for more than a minute is not only unnecessary- it’s downright pointless.
Your canine pal simply won’t understand why he or she is being reprimanded after the all-important timeframe has elapsed!
In this article, we’re going to explore punishing your dog for bad behavior for training purposes. We’ll also discuss how our dogs react to anger and a range of common human emotions and body languages.
- How Long Should You Be Upset With Your Dog?
- How To Show Your Dog You Are Angry: Do Dogs Remember When You Get Mad At Them?
- What Else Does My Dog Remember About Me?
- Remember To Reprimand Your Dog Without Going Overboard
As we’ve already mentioned above, you shouldn’t be mad at your dog for longer than a minute.
While you may be inclined to put your dog in time out for an extended period of time, we recommend against doing this.
A dog’s intelligence is that of a small child, so punishing them for too long can have dire consequences.
Not only will your furry friend be confused about what they’re being punished for, but the punishment itself won’t sink in. Not to mention, you’ll probably regret ignoring them for too long!
Of course, there are a few different reactions you may have depending on the ‘crime’ your four-legged pal has committed.
For something simple– such as your dog nosing through the garbage or grabbing a piece of cherry pie from the table — saying “No no!” in an assertive (NOT an irate) tone while wagging your finger and maintaining eye contact should do the trick.
However, if your dog is having consistent behavioral issues that are leading to serious headaches for you and your family, you should consider speaking with a canine behavioral specialist for professional help with training and behavior.
There are a few issues that would warrant the intervention of a behavioral specialist or dog trainer.
If your furry friend is regularly chewing up furniture or destroying other areas of your home, this may be a sign of a deeper issue that will need to be addressed.
Some dogs can also begin to show increasing levels of aggression, especially later in life.
In these cases, you’ll want to immediately figure out the root cause to avoid any serious consequences (such as your dog biting you or one of your family members).
Oftentimes, negative behavior in canines can be corrected with proper dog training and resources. It’s important not to become discouraged, and to reach out to an expert for help if you need to.
You can also look for resources online (such as on this blog!) to help you understand why your dog is misbehaving so that you can take the necessary steps to solve the issue.
Some problems that could be a sign your dog is in need of behavioral training include:
- Digging up holes in your yard
- Frequent (or exclusive) pooping or peeing in the house
- A reluctance to be put on a leash
- Loud, incessant barking or aggression when strangers visit
- Chewing furniture and other personal belongings
- Aggression towards other animals (such as birds) and pets
Clearly, these issues can’t be solved by simply becoming mad at your dog and scolding them for a minute.
However, simple misbehavior or naughtiness (like getting in the garbage or nibbling your ear) can typically be solved by talking to your dog in an assertive tone so that they get the message.
While every dog owner can agree with reprimanding our four-legged friends when they misbehave, there are some reactions that are simply unacceptable and should never occur.
- Hitting your dog or causing physical harm by other means
- Leaving them in a crate or room for excessive amounts of time
- Excessively yelling at the dog in a loud voice
- Leaving the dog in an unfamiliar area.
Some of these reactions can have life-threatening consequences, or can cause serious emotional trauma for your dog that they may never recover from.
In some cases, these types of behaviors may even be considered animal abuse, which is illegal in most US states.
Now that you know what to do when your dog misbehaves- as well as exactly how long you should be mad at them- you may be wondering whether or not it will sink in.
As surprising as it may seem, dogs do remember when you get mad at them and will change their behavior accordingly.
Of course, this all depends on what they did and how you reacted.
Again, if you’re assertive and tell them “no!” while pointing your finger, this should be enough to let your furry friend know they did something wrong.
Keep in mind, you may need to repeat this process a few times, so it’s important not to get frustrated with your dog if he or she misbehaves again after reprimanding them.
Dogs are intelligent animals, but sometimes they don’t know they’ve done something wrong unless they’re consistently corrected for a specific behavior (otherwise known as ‘conditioning’).
You can take additional measures to help the process, however.
For instance, if your dog likes to chew on shoes, you can try covering those sneakers in something your dog may find repulsive. This might be a scent (such as bitter apple spray) or a chew toy they aren’t fond of.
Over the years, many studies- like this one from Sciencedirect– have been carried out to determine how dogs react to human emotions, specifically anger.
Almost unanimously, dogs tend to have a stress response when confronted with an angry human.
In these situations, your dog can react in a number of different ways, including:
- Licking their mouths
- Putting their ears back
- Tucking their tail between their legs
- Running away
- Giving you those “puppy dog” eyes
All of these are signs of a stressed out dog who is fearful of an angry human being and the punishment they might be facing.
So, next time you’re mad at your dog, remember to avoid being too harsh.
You should also be more inclined to praise your furry friend profusely whenever they do something good. Positive reinforcement works wonders.
For instance, if your dog has just learned to pee and poop outside, you should be applauding them, petting them, and telling them how much of a good boy or girl they are!
We’ve established that our canine friends can sense and remember when we are angry at them, but this isn’t the only thing your dog knows about you.
Your dog can actually sense a variety of human emotions and behaviors, including:
You may have been upset at something and felt the need to cry, when suddenly your furry friend rushes over to you and buries its head in your lap.
Surprise, surprise: Your loyal pooch does this because it senses your sadness and is making an effort to comfort you!
The unconditional love your dog has for you is truly one of the best parts of being a dog owner- especially when you’re down and in need of a fluffy shoulder to cry on.
Did you know your dog can sense when you’re giving more attention to something else (such as another pet or a child) than you are to them?
In fact, according to a recent study conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, when dogs sense this unfair behavior it often leads to distress and anxiety.
Therefore, next time you give your child kefir as a treat, don’t forget to give some to your pup as well!
Maybe you just started a new job or brought home a brand new baby. Whatever the case may be, your dog can sense when you have a new set of priorities.
This can sometimes lead to jealousy, resentment, and even depression for your dog, so it’s important you don’t shut them out completely.
If your new priority happens to be a child, make sure that you familiarize your dog with the baby as much as possible to get them used to the new family member.
This will prevent your canine pal from becoming envious and acting out aggressively as a result.
Have you ever been walking your furry friend when suddenly another dog passes by? What does your dog do in these situations?
If he or she becomes aggressive when other dogs are near, this could be due to fear. However, this is not just fear the dog is feeling themselves- but the fear you may be feeling!
Dogs not only sense when you’re afraid, they will also react accordingly. In these situations, they will typically go into protective mode or become just as afraid as you are and retreat.
In today’s hustle-and-bustle world and with all of the problems that come with it, it’s easy to become stressed out.
What’s worse? With the recent pandemic, stress and anxiety have been on the rise around the globe.
In other words, a lot of adults struggle with stress management. Unfortunately, when you’re stressed, it’s not only you that suffers.
Your dog can also sense your stress and anxiety, and can share the same emotions as a result.
This can lead to your dog acting out or becoming depressed, so it’s a good idea to find healthy methods for handling your stress and anxiety so that your pup isn’t affected too.
Some of the most popular stress management methods include:
- Changing your diet
- Ensuring you get enough sleep
(If you choose exercise as your means of reducing stress, you should consider walking your dog at the same time. Win-win!)
Not only will this help minimize your stress and anxiety, but it will provide much needed exercise for your canine friend as well- leading to a happier (and more well-behaved) pup.
You may have already guessed, but your dog knows when you’re happy and excited. The best part is, they will often share these emotions and join you if you choose to celebrate.
For example, if you just got a promotion and began jumping up and down with excitement, you’ll probably notice your dog jumping up to lick your face or wagging its tail.
This is a sign that they are sensing your glee and want to be a part of it. Of course, dogs also know when you’re happy with them in particular.
If you’re teaching your dog a new trick and they finally get it down, you should give them plenty of praise.
Do so either by petting them, calling them a “good boy” or “good girl” in a happy voice, or by giving them a well-deserved treat.
This will let the dog know they’ve done something good, and will encourage them to repeat the behavior in the future as well.
So, how long should you be mad at your dog? The answer is not long at all (less than one minute, ideally). In fact, you shouldn’t genuinely show anger towards a dog.
Instead, simply reprimand them in an assertive tone to correct any minor misbehavior. For more serious issues, you’ll likely need to seek the help of a dog trainer or behavioral expert.
At the end of the day, dogs can sense a range of human emotions, including anger. It’s best to avoid scolding your dog or being mad at them for too long.
After all, you love your furry friend, and you wouldn’t want them to feel sad or depressed due to one small mistake made!
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.