When Is It Ever OK to Hit a Dog?

After a recent incident that left me shaken, I still find it hard to believe people discipline their dogs by hitting them. What do you think: Is it ever OK to hit a dog?

Me? I don’t believe in hitting animals as a form of training or correcting unwanted behavior. By: shutterstock

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.

Shortly after Sissy, my brown Labrador, and I 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…

When is it okay to hit a dog?
What would you do if someone started smacking this dog? By: cordey/Flickr

Barking and Beating

The woman came back in with an obese miniature pinscher — I’m talking really big.

And it just so happened that another person 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 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 then another whack.

I looked across to the 3 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. The dog cried out in pain at the last hit.

That’s when I lost my cool.

The Warning

Continuing with my story, the front desk employees at the vet’s office were now watching the situation, and the veterinarian 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.

It took me a while to calm down.

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 OK to hit a dog? Would you have reacted differently in my situation?