Dogs are adorable, fun, and loyal companions. They can fill your days with happiness and love with their cute antics and protective nature. They can truly make your life richer.
But bringing home a dog, and adding them to your family, is a big responsibility. You need to take care of their needs, ensure they are in good health, shower them with love, train them, and occasionally also discipline them.
As sweet as your furry friend is, sometimes it can drive you up to the wall. Without proper training and care, dogs can develop undesirable behaviors.
For example, if the dog is bored, it can shred every piece of furniture it can dig its teeth into. Or, if the dog has gotten a taste of human food, it may resort to stealing food from your plate.
The dog will not indulge in such behaviors for the sole purpose of annoying you. There can be underlying causes like anxiety. So, you getting angry and hitting him does not do any good. Violence is never an option when disciplining dogs.
If you end up hitting the dog, the guilt that follows is another aspect you must deal with. You are bound to wonder, will my dog forgive me for hitting him?
The article will explore the emotional side of dogs, if they can forgive, and better and more effective ways of disciplining dogs.
- Can Dogs Feel Emotions?
- Can Dogs Remember Bad Experiences?
- Are Dogs Capable of Forgiving?
- Will My Dog Forgive Me for Hitting Him?
- Will My Dog Hold a Grudge for Hitting Him?
- What Are the Dangers of Repeated Hitting?
- What Can I Do to Earn My Dog’s Trust Again?
- Why Does Getting Angry Not Help When Dealing with Dogs?
- How to Discipline Dogs Without Violence?
Can Dogs Feel Emotions?
Yes, dogs can feel emotions. But their emotional vocabulary is limited compared to humans.
Dogs are capable of empathy. They can come to your aid when you are feeling sad or upset. This may lead you to believe that dogs emotionally function the same way as you. But that is not the case.
According to studies, dogs can feel basic emotions like happiness, love, fear, anger, and distress. But complex human emotions like guilt, embarrassment, forgiveness, envy, pride, and worry are alien to dogs.
For example, when you walk into the room when the dog is chewing on your shoe, it may drop the shoe and give you a sheepish look. It does not mean the dog feels guilty, but more as it got startled by your presence, or it can be a display of the basic emotion of fear.
Can Dogs Remember Bad Experiences?
Yes, dogs can remember bad experiences. But when we say ‘remember,’ do not confuse it with how humans tend to remember things. Humans have the ability to sort through their memories, recall, and reach out for a particularly painful memory. However, that is not how dogs remember bad experiences.
For dogs, the memory will show up as a behavior or a default reaction they have developed over time. For example, according to ASPCA, over 3.3 million canines enter US shelters each year, with less than half of them being adopted.
One of the primary concerns is poor behavioral issues from past experiences. Dogs that have been mistreated or abused in their life cannot pinpoint the exact memory of when they were hit, but they can develop issues like anxiety or aggression as a result.
For example, if a bearded man mistreated the dog, the dog might cower in the presence of other bearded people. But the good news is that a dog can overcome their triggers and develop positive associations with love, training, and socialization efforts.
Are Dogs Capable of Forgiving?
There are two aspects to forgiving – one is understanding the emotion, and the other is remembering an event and relating your apology to the event. Dogs are lacking in both departments.
For example, as mentioned above, dogs cannot process complex emotions like forgiveness. For this to happen, the dog first needs to understand that you hit it and that using violence is wrong. Your dog can get physically hurt and feel confused, but it will not be able to deeply process the situation like humans.
Now let us come to the dog’s memory. In the case of short-term memory, dog forgets what they did or what happened in a couple of minutes. So, if you hit the dog out of anger or accidentally, it will forget the event in a few minutes.
So, dogs are incapable of forgiving, but they will probably forget that you hit it if it was a one-off situation.
Will My Dog Forgive Me for Hitting Him?
As discussed above, if you hit the dog, it will probably forget about it in a few minutes. However, if you calm down and tell the dog it is a good boy, it may start wagging its tail and return to its normal self.
According to a study, a dog has an emotional range equal to that of a two-year-old toddler. So if you have yelled at a toddler and later pacified them by carrying them around or giving them their favorite toy, it is the same for your furry friend as well.
So, if you are worried that your dog will be emotionally hurt, not interact or not forgive you, that is highly unlikely. Your dog will not forgive but forget about the incident.
This, though, is not an excuse for you to hit your dog. Violence is never acceptable for expressing your emotions or disciplining the dog. It is not effective. Moreover, your dog can be aggressive and retaliate. We will explore the issue of repeated hitting further.
Will My Dog Hold a Grudge for Hitting Him?
A grudge is defined as a feeling of hurt, ill will, or resentment that one harbors because of a painful incident in the past. So, as you can tell by now, like forgiveness, holding a grudge is not an emotion your dog can process.
When you hit the dog, at that moment, it can get scared and may shy away from you. It may find solace behind a piece of furniture or hide behind the curtains. But, it will not remember the isolated incident, hold a grudge and act cold towards you.
Your dog will not hold a grudge, but if it is a rescue dog that has been mistreated or abused earlier, your beating can trigger its aggression. It can bite or lunge at you. If you frequently hit the dog, it can also grow fearsome of you.
What Are the Dangers of Repeated Hitting?
Will my dog forgive me for hitting him? Yes, or more like forget. Will the dog hold a grudge against me? No, it will not. So we have got the basics covered. But why do we keep insisting that these dog traits should not be misused, and why is hitting your pet never acceptable?
This is because repeated beatings can change a dog’s behavior. It can become aggressive and fearful, and it can strain the relationship you have with the pet.
We have talked about a dog’s short-term memory now; let us see how well its long-term memory works. According to studies, dogs remember events with a strong positive or negative association. More so if the event had an impact on the animal’s ability to survive.
So, if you or the dog’s previous owner hit it repeatedly, the dog will develop behavior based on the pattern of beating. Your pet does not understand the concept of right or wrong. You hitting or kicking the dog can hurt it physically. It is not an experience the dog wants to keep having, so it will do its best to avoid it.
The avoidance can be in the form of aggression or staying away from you because of fear. Over time the dog will develop its fight or flight response. So, the next time you hit the dog, it may growl, scratch or bite you.
Some dogs may show submissive behaviors. For example, they will fall to the ground, run away from you, or even pee and poop involuntarily because of fear or anxiety.
You may be able to get away from hitting your dog once or twice, but repeated beatings can affect the dog mentally and hurt the bond you share. In addition, if a young dog is mistreated growing up, it may not reach its full potential or have socialization issues as the dog devotes a majority of its energy to being afraid of you and trying to survive.
What Can I Do to Earn My Dog’s Trust Again?
Dogs can be a handful. As a pet parent, you will surely come across situations where the dog will test your patience.
They will get into trash cans, eat, and spread garbage across the living room or happily chew on your favorite pair of shoes or rip into the couch and cover the room with fluffy cotton stuffing.
Being greeted by such sites at the end of the day can be overwhelming. You may yell or even hit the dog in a fit of anger. This, again, is not acceptable, but it can happen in a state of overflowing emotions. You may even lock the dog out of the room.
Once you have calmed down, it is the feeling of guilt that slowly creeps over. You begin to wonder if scaring your dog over something as trivial as garbage was right.
The best thing you can do in such a situation is to calmly apologize to the dog, use soothing words, and reassure the dog you still love it. Will the dog know you are apologizing? No, it will not. Will the dog understand you are apologizing for hitting it? The answer is again no. But accepting your mistake and saying sorry to the dog can help you calm down and deal with your guilt.
The tone of your voice plays a major role in earning your dog’s trust. Speak to the dog in a calm assuring voice. Dogs can pick up on your tones, if you speak to them loudly, they will be wary of you, but if you stay calm and maintain a neutral tone, your dog will be able to gauge your reassuring mood.
If you have banged the door in the dog’s face, it would be best to open the door and let the dog inside the room. It is important not to go overboard with the reassuring behavior, though. Do not smother the dog in cuddles. It would help if you still let the dog know that the behavior it displays is not appreciated.
Talking to the dog in a calm voice should be enough to earn its trust if hitting was a one-off incident.
Why Does Getting Angry Not Help When Dealing with Dogs?
Anger does not have a place in your interactions with dogs. If you are hitting your dog intending to discipline, then know it is not an effective method, especially if you are punishing the dog hours after the deed is done.
For example, the dog chewed on your shoe when you were away. You come home, see your chewed-up shoe, and lash at the dog. Your pet does not have the capability to relate these two incidents – it chewing on your shoe and you shouting the hitting the dog several hours later.
So, in this case, anger and violence do not prove to be effective in disciplining the dog. Your beating will not stop the dog from repeating the undesired behavior. And if you continue with such violent behavior, you will only end up hurting the bond with your pet.
When you are angry with the pet, try methods like counting one to ten, taking deep breaths, or diverting your attention to some other activity. This will allow you to calm down and deal with the situation better.
How to Discipline Dogs Without Violence?
When it comes to disciplining dogs, nothing works better than positive reinforcement. If you continue to hit or shout at the dog, it will learn to ignore you or develop other aggressive behaviors.
Instead of yelling, try stopping an undesirable behavior by calmly saying no. When the dog does listen to you, reward the good behavior with treats or cuddles.
If your dog is indulging in an unwanted behavior like stealing food from your plate or sticking its nose in the garbage bin, stop the behavior right on its track. This way, the dog learns that the behavior it displays is not appreciated.
If your dog continues to display negative behaviors, it is necessary you get to the cause or the trigger of such behaviors. For example, if your house-trained dog starts peeing or pooping in the house, there could be underlying medical causes. The dog will not purposely urinate inside the house to annoy you. A trip to the vet will help you identify the cause and seek proper treatment.
Will my dog forgive me for hitting him? With a dog’s short-term memory, it will not forgive you but rather forget that you hit him. But only if hitting is a one-off incident.
Forgiveness is a complex emotion that dogs are not capable of processing. So, if you hit the dog, it will probably forget the incident in a couple of minutes.
In case of repeated beatings, the dog can develop negative behaviors. For example, if the dog has been abused, it may growl, lunge or bite you if you try to hit it. Such behavioral patterns can be broken with lots of care, love, and training.
If you hit the dog accidentally or lashing was a one-off case, you need not worry about the dog holding a grudge or being cold towards you. Instead, a few reassuring words in a calm voice will be enough for your pet to get back to normal. Remember, though, that violence is never an option when dealing with your beloved pets.
Heather Abraham is a professional blogger who owns two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a leopard gecko. She has a connection with animals since she was a child. She shares her love for all pet breeds and provides information on pet food, toys, medications, beds, and everything else.
She is committed to learning about the internal workings of animals. Her work permits her to work closely with knowledgeable vets and obtain practical expertise in animal care. When she is not working, her love of animals continues in her writing. Her goal is to educate and uplift readers who also have a passion for animals through her writing.