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7 Ways to Unwittingly Break a Dog's Spirit

By Carol Bryant


"No!" "Stop it!" "Get off!" "Sit down!" "Shut up and stop barking!"


If that’s all you heard day in and day out, just how low would your spirits sink? We know beyond a reasonable doubt that dogs feel sorrow, they get depressed, and the very essence of who they are as a species is threatened by a very common predator: mankind.


Here are seven things that are guaranteed to destroy your dog's spirit. Read on to see how many you hear about, read about, see, or engage in daily.


Scold / Yell / Rubbing a Dog’s Nose in Waste For Relieving Himself In the House


It is a myth that dogs know we are mad at them when we yell for their peeing or pooping in the house. Finding a puddle of piddle in the house may not be pleasant for humans, but dogs do not feel guilt when humans disapprove. Instead, they are reacting fearfully to the emotional response of their owner, regardless of when the accident occurred. Screaming or yelling reinforces bullying and, because it is happening long after the accident, the dog is left confused and afraid of you. Never, ever rub a dog’s nose in poo or pee, as this is disgusting, an old school mentality, and just plain mean.


Hitting a Dog


Long gone are the days of dominance and animal submission. Hitting is a very outdated belief and training method. All hitting does is teach the dog that you are to be feared. If you need something to hit, take up a punching bag at the gym or seek anger management. Do not, however, bring a dog into your life. He or she does not deserve this treatment. 


Punishing a Dog with "Time Out" in a Kennel


If a puppy is not cooperating or not doing the desired behavior during training, it isn’t that he is being “spiteful” or defiant, he is just being a puppy; it is your behavior that needs to be modified. Consider the task at hand and reconsider how you are training. Also, it could be that the puppy is distracted, or isn’t developmentally ready for that task. The same holds true for adult dogs. If an adult dog does something you are not pleased about, never punish or banish him to a kennel.



Taking a Dog’s Food or Treats Away While Eating


Not only is this ridiculous, but it serves nothing more than to assert what a grand bully you are. Though there is something to be said for having a pack leader, dogs should be left alone when eating. If a dog is kind, loving, and accepting of strangers when not eating, then leave well enough alone. Many people view a dog who growls when eating as being greedy, but this is just a dog being a dog. Some dogs will bite out of fear or confusion, so let dogs be dogs and let them eat in peace.


Not Walking Your Dog or Engaging in Quality Time


If you want something that lives, yet requires no attention other than to give it water and occasional sunlight, get a houseplant, not a pet. Dogs thrive on companionship, and without mental and physical stimulation, they slowly wither away. Have you ever seen a dog in a shelter who gets little to no interaction, and how sad and destroyed his spirit becomes? Do not let this happen to your dog. We are all busy, but our pets rely on us. Walk away from the electronic devices and walk with your dog instead. No matter a dog's age, they need to interact with you.


Leaving a Dog Alone for Inordinate Amounts of Time


Again, if you want something that can spend most of the day alone, this is the time for a houseplant, not a pet. Dogs need companionship; not just for the emotional connection and to truly thrive, but for their physical wellbeing, too. Would you like to hold your pee in for 10 to 12 hours a day? In fact, some dogs will so as not to upset their owner. Other dogs will pee inside and then the owner gets mad upon return. Seek the services of a family member, friend, neighbor, pet sitter, or doggy day care if you must leave your dog for long hours at a time. Nothing destroys a dog’s spirit like emptiness, so don’t do it.


Allowing a Dog to Suffer


If an animal is hurt or injured, please seek veterinary care. Allowing an animal to suffer in pain (and dogs are known to hide their symptoms) serves no one. Yes, veterinary care can be expensive, and yes, sometimes we as pet parents don’t want to hear that our dogs are aging and showing signs of it. We owe it to our dogs to give back the unconditional love and dedication they provide to us.


Though these are not pleasant reminders to read, they are all too true. Best advice ever: Do none of these, and if a dog you know is being harmed, speak up, do something, and/or tell someone. A dog’s life just might depend on it.



Image: MCarper / Shutterstock



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