While out walking my dog recently I witnessed a man chasing his dog down the street. Ever the “I’ll help, be right there” person that I am, my random act of kindness was quickly thwarted by a slap.
The dog apparently got loose while on a walk and his owner was chasing after him. As he scooped the little guy up (a shih tzu mix perhaps), he smacked the dog on the butt and repeatedly yelled over and over “No! No! No!” and jerked the dog close to him.
I yelled over “hey” and before a second word could float his way, he picked his dog up and quickly walked off, perhaps caught in the act or just not wanting to deal with an obviously stunned me.
To spank or not to spank a dog became a hot discussion on my Facebook page. No matter how upset you are or what the dog did to frustrate you, hitting/spanking/slapping a dog is never appropriate. Never. Yanking the dog back to you demonstrates how amazingly powerful and scary you are, but teaches a dog fear.
Putting your hand(s) on a dog as a form of punishment is not only wrong but as harmful to the relationship you want with your dog. Counterproductive in fact.
In her book, It’s Me or the Dog famed positive reinforcement trainer and star of her own dog behavior show on Animal Planet, Victoria Stilwell, writes, “When you hit a dog, you teach him to fear you, break his trust, and you weaken his confidence. Insecure dogs are the one who are more likely to lash out in an aggressive display.”
Anyone who has seen the show, “It’s Me or the Dog” on Animal Planet knows that all of the techniques Victoria Stilwell uses to teach and change even the most difficult of dog cases are diverse and none of them involves spanking, hitting, or forcing making him fearful/losing his will.
According to DogsBite.org, approximately 1,000 Americans seek emergent care for a dog bite DAILY. That isn’t to say all dogs who bite have been hit or spanked or abused. The statistics are, however, worth pondering in the grand scheme of things.
Hitting a dog to teach him not to growl at a child, not to chew a shoe, not to bark, or because you are frustrated is harmful and just plain not nice. There are ways to teach a dog, to correct a behavior, and to get your dog to “listen.” My pooch learned “ah ah” and I thanked Victoria in person for this fun, positive, and “ohhh what the heck was that” technique when I say it to my dog.
Perhaps you’ve learned that spanking is okay, a parent or loved one reinforced it, you grew up with it. Well when you know better, you do better. Two wrongs don’t make a right, truly.
A more assertive me would have crossed the street in speed walk style with my pooch and educated said dog slapper to his face, unabashedly, unapologetic, but informative. A stunned me watched him scurry away. A stunned me thought “well people attack others who confront them, even if to educate.”
Dogs are bigger spirits than we as humans. Watch an abused dog as he or she is rescued from a kennel; I’ve lost count to the number of dogs I’ve seen wag. They trust us, believe in us, and give us second chances. Give them a break, don’t hit, don’t slap. Teach, strengthen the bond, and simply love.