Let’s be honest! Most of us have dealt with frustration and anger toward our pets. You know…the white, hot fury that hits when you see the shredded remains of your expensive new window treatment; or when you look out your kitchen window and discover Rover digging away in the herb garden you spent all morning putting in.
Most of us know those feelings of, “When I get my hands on you, Fluffy, you will be one sorry cat!”
Fortunately, it is no longer acceptable to use physical punishment on pets, and you and I recognize that other means of dog or cat discipline must be found.
Unfortunately, beating and abusing pets in the name of correcting behavior still exists. We can’t stop it, but we can try to educate others of better ways to achieve the behavior we want from our dogs and cats.
Aside from the obvious cruelty aspect, hitting a dog or cat could produce some undesirable results.
What Really Happens if You Hit Your Dog
Using physical discipline on your pet doesn’t create a well-behaved dog. Instead, you raise a dog that is insecure, fearful of people, with an instinct to cower away from you.
The dog also could be become aggressive and lash out at you or other humans. Hitting a dog isn’t discipline. It’s abuse and the pet that is supposed to love you could turn on you in an instant.
Physical discipline includes hitting an animal with a rolled-up newspaper or any other object, including a hand. Experts enjoy suggesting that the term, discipline, is the same as punishment, but I disagree.
Discipline is setting boundaries — limits that a dog should respect. If he doesn’t, an alternative action occurs. A dog does not view a slap on the nose as a reason not to recreate the behavior. Instead, he views it as a reason to fear his owner.
My dog, Murphy, is a rescue. It is clear that his previous owner used physical punishment on Murphy because if someone raises a hand for any reason near the dog, he shrinks away in fear. My pup thinks a raised arm means he is about to be hit.
Because dogs should be raised to be confident, relaxed pets who love, rather than fear their owners, any kind of pet physical punishment should be avoided.
How Cats React to Punishment
Cats do not respond well to punishment. Someone I know used to spank her cat with a rolled up newspaper. That cat was a terror! She peed on the wall-to-wall carpet, and the entire house reeked of cat urine!
Once, I made the mistake of reaching out to pet her and she attacked my hand. Her behavior was completely unpredictable.
This animal’s behavior was the result of the physical punishment she received from her owner.
Cats can be trained, but punishing them is not the way to get positive results. Positive reinforcement using treats is the only way to convince a cat to follow directions.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Dogs have owners; cats have staff?” While meant as a joke, it’s mostly true. Most cats possess an aura of “I rule this place; you don’t!”
If you want your cat to behave, use kindness, treats, and a whole lot of love to obtain the results you want. Distraction and a treat works wonders with Miss Kitty.
There Is a Difference between Punishment and Discipline
Punishment implies hitting, shoving or some other form of physical aggressiveness toward the animal. Instead of teaching the dog not to do a certain behavior, he learns to be afraid of you or to react with aggression toward you.
Discipline is about teaching limits. With discipline, a time-out in his crate works as an alternative for a behavior the dog won’t stop doing. Simply removing the dog from the unwanted behavior distracts the animal.
The result is that the dog learns to avoid the unwanted behavior, because the result will put him in the crate away from his people. It doesn’t teach him fear.
Suppose your dog insists on peeing in the house instead of outside. Do you punish him? Some people stick the dog’s nose in the urine and yell at him. The dog may learn that his urine is bad, but he won’t learn that he is supposed to do that outside.
A better idea would be to watch the dog. If he begins sniffing the floor, immediately take him outside. Have treats in hand and when he goes potty in an appropriate place, praise him and offer a treat. Positive reinforcement of a good behavior brings better results and a better trained pet.
Follow These Tips to Raise the Dog or Cat of Your Dreams
Our Murphy is still a work in progress. He has shared our home for almost a year and still exhibits moments of fear. But he has come a long way and is finally learning that we can be trusted and will never hurt him.
If you just brought a new dog or cat into your home, think carefully about the type of animal you want to raise. Do you want your dog to be confident and secure and look to you as its alpha member of the pack? Do you want your new kitty to love you and treat you as someone she depends on?
For those things to happen, you must make up your mind to raise your pets, as you would your human children, with love and setting limits when needed; disciplining with kindness rather than using your hand or other weapons.
The result will be a pet that is a joy to be around and one you will enjoy as a true family member.