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Help: I Accidentally Hurt My Dog

Accidentally hurt my dog

I hurt my dog. I accidentally hurt my dog. I did not do it on purpose, not because I am a bad dog mom, but I feel horrific when something happens to my dog in my care. There are things that dog parents do that we internalize, repeat over and over in our heads, and just cannot seem to “shake” off. If you’ve ever accidentally hurt your dog or your dog was injured in your care (or nearly), I know exactly how you feel.

Will my dog still love me because I: ________ (fill in the blank for something crappy that happened, no matter how big or small, yet you feel to blame.)  You feel to blame because it happened to your dog, the one you worship and cherish more than life itself.

The blame game is a pretty crappy companion: In fact, the blame game is one in which you, the offender, loses time and again. I know because this feeling recently thwarted itself into my life.

Here’s the (fidose of) reality of it all: Dogs do remember – look at dogs who have been abused – the propensity for a dog to forgive and look past is amazing. Have you ever seen a video of a dog who is sprung from a shelter because someone “rescued” him or her? Many times, their tails are wagging. Dogs are that much better than human beings, truly.

However, if you are a loving person who makes a mistake that ends up harming your dog in some way, harboring guilt and dubbing yourself a bad dog parent helps no one. So don’t do it. Read on. Great dog parents sometimes do really crappy things by accident: It’s called being a human being.

ONE CAVEAT: There are things you should NEVER EVER EVER do to a dog (any pet) and do NOT qualify for “oops, I did not mean it.”  These things include, but are not limited to:

  • Hitting a dog/Spanking a dog
  • Forcing a dog to do something that causes them extreme distress (i.e. dog fighting, pushing a dog into a dark room and closing the door, things that are sick and twisted)
  • Putting a device on your dog that causes harm
  • Wiping a dog’s nose/face in feces because “that’ll teach ’em not to do it again”

These are but a few behaviors that are so abhorrent that if you do any of them, please stop having a dog in your life.

Help if you accidentally hurt your dog

Again, things never to do and do not qualify as “oops, I didn’t mean it”

  • Hitting a dog
  • Forcing dog to do something he or she doesn’t want
  • Choke or shock collars
  • Wiped nose in crap
  • Punishing a dog by not feeding him or her for a bad behavior
  • Emotional abuse of a dog

How do I know about some of these twisted things? As a writer/reporter, I have interviewed thousands of people in my lifetime: These are some of the behaviors that certain people find normal. They are not normal. They will never be normal. So get a plant or a pet rock instead if you find any of the above to be normal.

CLICK THIS: Why You Should Never Spank or Hit a Dog

spanking dog

How to Get Past Guilt Trips

Recently, my wife and I were shopping at a local strip mall. One of the stores welcomed well-behaved dogs, so in we went, Cocker in tow. A sign in front of the store kept falling over due to high winds, and our dog, a loving and friendly pooch, became frightened.

My wife took him out front to wait while I went to the checkout to pay for our items. The next thing I know, the dog is running out into the middle of the parking lot: A very busy Saturday in a parking lot. My wife is running after him. I drop my purchases and take off for the door.

Our dog heard the sign fall again and it scared him the way fireworks do: It was very loud. He took off out of fear and pulled so hard that my wife dropped the leash, a padded handle, not a Flexi-leash….she was taken off guard.

Nothing happened, but it set the tone for our day. We were both shook up. Our dog, fortunately, was unscathed. In fact, he ran TO our vehicle in the parking lot. He remembered our car and where it was parked.

I cannot begin to tell you how upset we were. It really shook us up. It was an accident. We kept reminding ourselves that the dog is okay, nothing happened, and we learned a lesson from it all: Be mega prepared at all times. And mistakes happen. Even to dog lovers of the highest order.

Are You Struggling With a Doggie Guilt Trip?

You need to tell your mind a different story than the one it is currently reading. First, literally write down all the awesome things you do for your dog.  This can include everything from going on walks, to taking a trip together, to making sure he is well fed, loved, etc. Make that list. Refer to it every time you feel guilty. Ever single time.

Forgive yourself. It’s easier said than done, right?! You need to let it go because otherwise it will eat you up and take time away from the bond you share with your dog. Here’s a quote you can tell yourself: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize that prisoner was you.” ~Lewis B. Smedes

Do something good with your dog that makes you (and your pup) feel wonderful! Go for an ice cream, play at the park, give Fido a tummy rub, get a new toy and play a game. Whatever it takes, re-program your brain.

Pet bloggers
Melissa Clinton, left, with yours truly.

You Are Not Alone

No matter what the circumstance, somewhere, someone, has done something that caused harm in some way to someone else. If you do it on purpose, get help. Seek intervention. If you caused an accident, you are a human being. We cannot be everywhere at all times and hold ourselves accountable when an accident occurs. That’s why they are called accidents.

Our blogging pal, Melissa Clinton, penned a blog post about dog parents who make mistakes.

Have you ever done something to your pet that made you feel lousy? Remember, you aren’t alone, you aren’t human, and your dog loves you.


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  1. It is so nice to know that we are not alone in our mistakes. We are so fortunate that our “oops” moments are forgiven by our dogs much faster than by ourselves. I always find it sad that people don’t believe dogs and cats have amazing memories. Silly humans. I love sharing posts with you. ♥

    1. Ugh I get so sad when I step on a paw paw – and that squeal that ensues. I have to love and kiss to make it better and then beat myself up for doing so.

    2. i just accidentally hurt my dogs bad knee. i feel so awful. he was under the covers and i lifted them to give him a treat and try to get him up (he had not gone out to potty for over eight hours! so i thought maybe i should try to lure him out). i guess the blanket was caught up on his leg or maybe i got too close but he screamed and his bad knee seems to be bothering him. i can’t handle the guilt. i feel awful i hurt him.

  2. If we accidentally step on our Westie’s paw, she actually apologize’s to us! Dogs are so big hearted, loving and smart. I think people that mistreat them are the dregs of society.

  3. I would never hit or hurt any dog, but there have been times when I’ve accidentally stepped on their tails — of course they forgave me right away. That’s the great thing about dogs.

  4. I accidentally stepped on my friend’s dog’s tail and felt absolutely awful. I didn’t even know he was behind me. It was so awkward and the dog looked so sad.

  5. I accidentally rolled over my pup’s ear with my desk chair. I didn’t realize she had stretched out under my chair. Her yelp of pain made my heart stop! Now I always check under my chair before moving.

    I’ve had several foster dogs that we could tell have been hit or had things thrown at them. They would flinch or cower when we would reach down to pet them or when we threw a ball for them. Luckily, dogs are forgiving and can usually form a bond once you win their trust but it takes a lot of love and patience.

  6. It is the worst feeling when you accidentally run into your dog – from stepping on them to stepping on their tail. Sometimes they are so quiet around you!

  7. There is so much truth to this. I feel so bad whenever Luna or Ralph might get hurt or scared. Just last night they were running around the house and I accidentally stepped on a paw. The little squeal breaks my heart, so I just hold them tight for a bit to make sure they know and I know they know that I love them.

  8. Our dog wears a “shock” collar and I do not think it is a bad thing. We have never actually shocked her with it and it just vibrates when she gets too close to the fence. She fence fights and got bit by the dog on the other side which resulted in large vet bills. I would prefer a vibration to a hurt pup.

  9. I know we’ve almost stepped on the cat countless times because she gets underfoot and we didn’t realize it. We always feel so bad, but it’s not intentional. Accidents can, do and will happen.

  10. I agree that these are not things that should ever be done to a dog. We don’t potty train our children by rubbing their nose in feces, so the same should be said for our dogs. Also, things such as shock collars are just cruel and not needed. I once knew someone to try on a shock collar to see how it felt, and it made them drop to the ground due to how badly the shock hurt.

  11. Today I picked up my dog (Charlie) to give him a cuddle, but I heard a squeal. Then I realised I accidentally hurt his back and his left back foot. I felt so guilty even he was leaping. 🙁 It takes a really long time to earn my dog`s love and trust again. When I felt so sad and guilty I gave him a treat to say ” I am really sorry”. But he wouldn’t take the treat from my hand. I am afraid he will need surgery to fix him up!!! :(. Imagine he wouldn’t take some food from me and he would be starving that he could die!!! 🙁 🙁 :(. My mum was really mad at me. Someone please give me more advice so Charlie can forgive me.

    1. Hi Hailey – Accidents happen and Charlie forgives you. He just might be scared it will happen again. Imagine if that happened to you – I would be a little scared. Has he been checked by the vet and does he need surgery? Let us know and we can offer some advice to make Charlies BFFs with you again 😉 Big hugs!

  12. Agh! I slammed my cockers tail in the door 🙁 I felt so so so so horrible. She is fine, but I sat on the floor and cried like a baby. She forgave me, but still, its the worst feeling when you hurt the beautiful thing that brings you so much joy and love.

  13. I adopted my dog. I found him on the street and now he has been with me. I love him so much, he is so charming and lovable… so light hearted. This one time it was very late ( like 11:45 pm) and he wanted to go out for a walk, i took him out. While we were walking ( he follows me) he found something on the floor. It looked like dough or dry tortillas but i wasnt sure. It had been there for days. I told him NOT to eat it. I warned him and told him NO! drop it! i even took a piece out of his mouth by force. But my words were a joke to him, he kept eating eating it , he even turned around for more once we were walking away. So in a desperate attempt to “teach him” i grabbed him mouth and closed it ( like i read their mom dogs do it). i just wanted him to understand that that is not for eating but i did not meassure my force and my grip and i hold him so hard he cried a litttle bit. i let him go immediately, i was so mad i took him home in my arms. Now i feel AWFUL i feel like im the worst person, i am so so sorry i didnt mean to harm him i was just trying to teach him but now i know that is not the right way. Man i love my dog i hope he can forgive me i hope he still loves me like the very first day i brought him home… 🙁

  14. i closed the door while my pup head was inside i didn’t do it accidentally though. I feel too bad, now he ignores me :(….. how do i gain his trust back?!

  15. Good article, I disagree with the shock collar thing though. Used properly, I find them to be very good tools. You can correct the dog exactly when they are doing the undesired action and they can more easily associate the undesired action with correction. I find it to be better on the dogs because it only takes once or twice and you aren’t asking them to guess what they are doing wrong. I also find that I don’t have to use them very long (thankfully) and most are set up to do a sound or vibrate before shocking so you usually don’t have to shock them to get correction. I had 2 large dogs that had a bad habit of chasing cows and the cattle owner was VERY protective of his cattle. I had tried and tried to break them from it for their own good and but they thought it was a game. I used the collar once on the big one and she stopped immediately and no longer chased cows. The smaller one it took 2 hits, but she too stopped. Both dogs lived long happy and healthy lives.
    Now for folks that abuse dogs or hurt them intentionally for no reason, they should be tied to a fireant bed covered in honey

  16. I yanked my Little dog on her leash too hard to keep her from running out into the street and she lost her balence and skidded on the sidewalk and one of her feet got scratched and she bled a little. I immediately picked her up and cried . . She is ok, and is not acting any differently to me and is as loving as ever. I am upset with myself for this! I keep replaying the incident over and over in my mind. I love my baby and in 10 years this is the only time I hurt her and it was an accident

  17. I don’t have any dogs, but do have 2 chinchillas. I just got them and they are so gentle and sweet, but very skittish and wriggly. The other day I let the littlest out, his name’s Yogi, and he was having the time of his lie running around but it was nearly midnight so I decided to pop him back in his cage. When he was calm enough to pick up, I couldn’t get a proper grip on him and it was such a mess he ended up wriggling away, I genuinely cried because I was so scared he’d hate me and never want to be picked up again. About 5 minutes later he was fully over it, running around, climbing on my lap and my laptop. Just goes to show how much more forgiving he was of me then I was of myself. I was still shakey and nervous about it for hours, even though he didn’t care. He gets himself into more trouble and is unphased by jumping from the windowsill and curtains, but it just felt awful.

  18. Thank you so much for this.
    I was walking a dog and she starting chewing a stick that got caught in her throat and we couldn’t get it out at first when I finally managed to get it out she was just bouncing up at me like her best friend. I’ve been crying ever since. I keep replaying in my head how I could have reacted quicker and got it out sooner. I need to remember that I did get it out and she is fine now.

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