Will My Dog Forgive Me For Hitting Him? (Harsh Truth)

Dogs are a man’s best friend. They give unconditional love, protect us from danger, and occasionally clean up our spilled food. But they also do bad things.

Maybe they pull all the toilet paper off the roll or track mud through the living room. They can try our patience.

will my dog forgive me for hitting him
Will my dog forgive me for hitting him? (Harsh Truth)

Most people today make a conscious effort not to practice the same punishments on their pets they may have seen their parents or grandparents use. Once in a while, you might get so frustrated that you take a rolled-up newspaper and hit him on the backside. You could also swat his nose for trying to eat your food.

You may ask yourself, “will my dog forgive me for hitting him?”

What Happens When a Person Hits a Dog?

Dogs have short-term memories. When you punish them for something, they do not even remember what they did. If you come home from work and they knocked over your favorite lamp, you probably start yelling at them.

They have no idea why you are yelling, but they feel your aggressive behavior without understanding what they did to cause it.

If you start striking your dog, he will remember it. Maybe he will not remember why you did it, but he will remember the pain and the anger he received from you. If you get mad at your dog repeatedly, he will become afraid of you.

When dogs become afraid of you, different things happen based on their breed and temperament. Some of them will cower and hesitate to be around you. Others will start to lash out. If a dog begins to growl and bite at the person they are afraid of, it can be a behavioral problem that will affect their reactions to other people.

dog scared tapping butt
A dog was scared after being hit by his owner.

Step 1: The Guilt

A few minutes after you strike your dog, you will feel guilty. You will remember they have shown you nothing but affection. He is defenseless against you and trusts you. Hitting him was not the ideal choice.

The truth is that your dog will have forgotten about it by the time you start feeling that guilt. He does not process thoughts and memories the same way we do. You will feel bad while he is moving on to the next thing.

Step 2: The Apology

Just because he forgets what you did does not mean you can avoid giving him an apology. What you told yourself after you hit him is still the truth. He did not deserve that, and you should make it up to him.

Take him for an extra long walk or to a dog park to play. Go by the ice cream store and ask for a puppy cup. Then make him his favorite meal.

Step 3: Learn From Your Mistake

The biggest takeaway from your experience should be that you will never let it happen again. If it does, you begin to move beyond a one-time incident into abuse. While dogs are resilient and can move on from your brief lapse in judgment, a continued display of aggressive behavior will affect them.

Hitting Does Not Result in Respect

Previous generations believed that hitting or kicking a dog until they were afraid of you created an alpha bond. This bond means the dog will respect you as the dominant one in their pack due to fear. However, this idea could not be further from the truth.

The alpha bond is built on respect, but not the kind that comes from fear. A dog will look at you as their leader when they trust you. If he knows that you will provide him with food and shelter, and if you spend time with him, the bond will grow.

You do not have to hit your dog to get respect.

scared dog looks up
A dog is scared while looking up.

Getting Their Trust Back

Suppose you saw your grandfather or your father hit a dog a few times growing up. That might be the way you thought punishment should look like. Now, you are reading this article and realizing that you might have damaged the relationship between you and your friend. 

He jumps back when you reach out for him. He drops his head and shivers when you call his name. How do you regain his affection and earn back his trust?

  • Start by making sure you are covering all of his basic needs. Many people who abuse animals also are neglectful of them. Is he up to date on his shots? Has he been to a vet recently? Are you bathing him often enough? Are you sure you are feeding him properly?
  • Give him a schedule. Make sure that you are feeding him at the same time every day. Take him for a walk at a set time and set a timer every day for playtime. When the dog knows that he is getting all of these things as a routine, he will begin to let his guard down.
  • Begin to give your dog positive reinforcement. You have been punishing your dog whenever he did something wrong. For a while, he probably acted out because he knew that it would earn him attention, which is what he craves the most.

He will do good things if you reward him for them because it also gets your attention. But the vibe that he picks up from you is positive. Get some treats and give him one when he responds to his name.

Give him a toy to play with instead of your shoes. And reward him when you see him playing with it.

owner and Samoyed dog
The owner and Samoyed dog plays on the couch with blanket.

What Can You Do To Avoid Hitting Out of Anger?

No dog ever deserves to be hit for any reason. Live by that advice every day. If you have anger issues and tend to lash out, you need to find other ways to vent your anger so your dog does not have to experience an undeserved punishment.

owner pets Border Collie
The owner pets his Border Collie!

Step 1: Take a Minute

If your dog does something that makes you start to feel the urge to strike them, immediately go into another room and close the door. Sit down and take a deep breath. When you realize that the thing he did is not the end of the world, your anger will subside.

Then you are ready to deal with the situation.

Step 2: Punish Behaviors You Wish to Change

Again, dogs have a short memory. If he had an accident on the carpet and you saw him do it, show it to him. Sternly tell him that what he did was wrong without screaming at him.

Then take him into another room and give him a time out for a few minutes. He will associate the mess with the isolation, and it will stay with him. You effectively taught him a lesson without hitting him.

If you did not see him do it, you should avoid punishing him for the mistakes. If he breaks a lamp while you are at work, you can not show it to him and then punish him. He does not remember doing it.

All he knows is that there is a broken lamp and now he is isolated. Hurting him will not affect future behavior.

Instead, you continue to enforce good behaviors. If he broke the lamp because he was on the sofa and his tail hit it, you can start training him to stay off the sofa unless you call him. 

Step 3: Show Affection

Once the punishment is over, do not continue to punish him by being angry. It’s over, so put it in the past. Take him for a walk or to play with his toy.

Reinforce that even when he does something wrong, you will still love him.


It is never acceptable to take out your anger on those who are smaller than you. By hitting animals like your dog, you are not only doing him a disservice, but you are putting people in danger that may deal with him in the future.

If you do not think you can stop hitting your dog, give them up for adoption. Find a shelter that adopts animals so that they can find an owner for him before your abuse changes his behavior forever. But if you think you can stop and want to rebuild your relationship, you will find that it is not too late to give your dog the life he deserves.