When is it okay to hit a dog?
What would you do if someone started smacking this dog?

What would you do if you saw someone hitting a dog?

I know how I would react, because I saw it go down yesterday — at the vet’s office, of all places.

First, some background. Sissy, my brown Labrador, started limping the other day. My first thought was a splinter, something stuck in her paw or a scratch or scrape.

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Upon further inspection in the nooks and crannies of her paw with a flashlight, I came up empty. She consistently licked her paw and was limping considerably more the next day.

Another check of the paw, and I saw that what must have been a teeny tiny cut was licked to a now visible surface wound. I cleaned the wound and called the veterinarian’s office to see when they could squeeze us in. Luckily, they had an afternoon cancellation and we headed in.

Shortly after we checked in and sat down in the lobby, a woman came in and proceeded to the front desk. She explained that her dog was overheated and needed to see the vet right away.

The receptionist looked around the woman, then back at her. “Where is your dog?” she asked.

“In the car,” the woman replied.

Seriously? Your dog overheats, you take her to the vet and then leave her in the car — in 90-plus degree heat? Little did I know my silent seething would get worse…

Barking and Beating

The woman came back in with an extremely overweight miniature pinscher. It just so happened that a young woman was sitting across from me in the lobby with her own miniature pinscher. The contrast was appalling, but more shock was yet to come.

The woman sat down in the lobby just around the corner near the examination rooms. She was holding her dog in her lap, and the dog was constantly barking. In a vet’s office, barking is expected, so no one really pays it any mind — until the first WHACK was heard.

The woman had hit her dog so hard it could be heard throughout the entire (large) lobby from around the corner hallway.

At first I wasn’t exactly sure what I had heard. Then the next whack was followed with a “Shut up!” And another whack.

I looked across to the three people sitting opposite me, and their gazes went from her to me with a look that could only be explained as shock. The dog continued barking, and then yet another whack was heard. The dog cried out in pain at the last hit.

That’s when I lost my cool.

The Warning

The front desk employees were now watching the situation, and the vet had just walked out as I leaned forward to make sure my voice carried to where she was sitting:

“If you hit that dog one more time,” I announced, “I’m coming over there to see how you like it!”

The vet looked at me then back at her before taking the dog away from her and disappearing into one of the examination rooms.

Miss Hits-a-Lot was taken to a back room where people and patients don’t normally go, and I found out before I left that they were discussing if they would even let her leave with the dog.

I calmed down and our names were called, and I left hoping the overheated dog wouldn’t be sent home to be beaten further.

What Would You Do?

I don’t believe in hitting animals as a form of training or correcting unwanted behavior, especially in this case — where the dog was already overheated and stressed.

But what about regular training? Positive reinforcement and clicker-type training are praised by some, while others either support or criticize Cesar Millan‘s contact method, examples of which have shown him hitting dogs.

So let me pose this question to you: When is it okay to hit a dog? Would you have reacted differently in my situation?

Tell me in the comments below; let’s start a discussion.

Photo: Cordey/Flickr

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