Why I couldn’t stand by and let another owner hit his dog and you shouldn’t either


I have talked about punishing animals before and have made my views plain. I was prompted to return to this subject by an experience while walking with my rescue dog, Ziggy.

We were at our favourite spot by the water, chatting with the owner of two elderly labradors, a couple of Ziggy’s buddies. While we were talking a golden retriever appeared and promptly sat in the water. After a few minutes it was apparent that the owner was nowhere to be seen. There were no sounds of shouting or a whistle being blown to summon the dog.

I approached the dog in the water, he immediately backed up and was clearly nervous. Normally, most dogs will come to me, particularly if offered a tasty treat. I was intending to get the dog on the lead and to search for the owner.

The other owner took of with her dogs in the direction the new dog had come from. Perhaps she would happen upon the owner? As I waited with Ziggy, I could see a man approaching. I called to him and asked whether it was his dog. He shouted back ‘Yes, and I’m going to give him a good hiding when I get him!”

I now understood why the dog was so nervous and unprepared to approach me. My first response was to suggest not hitting the dog. This fell on deaf ears. This guy was in his sixties and clearly thought this was fine to treat his dog in this way. I was now concerned for the welfare of this dog, I followed this idiot back to the water.

The dog backed a little further away into the water when he shouted at it to come, again saying he was going to give him a hiding.

I told him, in no uncertain terms not to hit his dog. He, of course, became aggressive and told me to mind my own business, it was his dog and he’d do as he liked. That wasn’t going to happen. I firmly told him that it was abuse and that I was not going to let that happen. I stepped a little closer and watched. Clearly, this made him rethink, however grudgingly, his planned action.

The dog, eventually, under sufferance went to the man who put him lead on and walked away, without hitting him. I made sure to watch him for some distance before going on my way with Ziggy. This little vignette suggested to me that this dog was regularly subjected to physical abuse when his owner felt it appropriate.

There a a number of points to make here. Firstly, it is never appropriate to hit your dog under any circumstances. It is an extreme act of cowardice and abuse, making you liable to prosecution under the Animal Act 2006. Secondly, the dog will not understand why it is being hit. Thirdly, do you expect a dog to come back to you knowing it will almost certainly be physically punished for doing so?

You may also find that a dog that is regularly abused with physical punishment will become difficult to train, fearful and even aggressive.

I would implore people, with due regard to your own safety, to not stand by and let this sort of casual abuse happen. Step up and do something about it.

Image credit: Shutterstock