How to Regain a Scared Dog’s Trust After Hitting Him

We won’t ask the reason why you hit your dog. It may have been accidental or out of pure frustration after your dog was misbehaving. Whatever the reason, hitting is hitting and you may need to take steps to rebuild your dog’s trust.

Dogs are generally forgiving and may still trust you after you hit them, especially if this was an isolated incident. That said, dogs also build up a strong association with pain and fear so you may need to take steps (and be patient throughout the process) to show your dog that you aren’t someone to be scared of. Here are some tips that may help you regain your dog’s trust.

Let the Dog Come to You

Don’t force anything on your dog. For example, don’t pick up the dog or corner him to an area of the house where he may feel threatened. Instead, we would suggest to let your dog be and give him time until he comes to you on his own. During this time, you can occasionally offer your dog his favorite treats and toys to show that you aren’t someone to be scared of.

One other important tip is to not pamper your dog immediately after he gets hit. It feels natural to immediately go to your hurt dog and shower him with affection but keep in mind that a dog’s psychology is very different to a human’s. Pampering him may send the wrong message and teach your dog that he will be rewarded for feeling scared.

The most important step immediately after your dog gets hit is to first make sure he isn’t suffering by checking for any injuries. Once you confirm this, you can pet the dog and apologize briefly before moving on. You don’t want the dog to dwell too much on the incident. You can also give the dog a treat once it looks like he has calmed down.

Don’t Ever Raise Your Voice

Dogs may not understand what you say but they are definitely sensitive to the loudness and tone of your voice. You should never shout or raise your voice when you are talking to your dog. Instead, use a soothing and delightful tone to indicate to your dog that there’s nothing to fear.

Not long ago, a study on dog training found that aversive-based training methods can have long-term negative effects on a dog’s mental health. This is just one reason why it’s never good to raise your voice when talking to a dog. Instead, you should resort to positive-reinforcement methods.

Don’t Act or Look Anxious

It’s not just the voice. Dogs may also be sensitive to a person’s demeanor. It’s important to not act or look anxious immediately after the incident as this may just cause even more anxiety for your dog. Aside from the hitting, he may think there is something even more wrong to the incident.

If things don’t seem to change over time then it may be worthwhile to consult with a professional dog trainer to see if there’s anything you can do to fix the trust between your dog and yourself. Whatever lead to this incident, please do not ever hit your dog again.

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.


  • Chase | 01/12/2022

    I’m not sure if this site will help. But I’ve just read an article written on it about hitting our dogs. I suppose I should be seeking some anger management maybe. But I thought an email was easy to do since I was here. I have 15 week old pup. She’s very sweet. Though I’ve made it a terrible habit of hitting her when she goes potty in the house. I’m not breaking any bones or breaking any teeth. But I’m also being quite more aggressive than just spanking her on her bottom. I have deep guilt. Though I’ve earned that. I deserve to live with that. But I worry she will live her life in fear now. She ticks her hers and tail and crouches down when I move quickly now. She doesn’t present herself like she once used to with me. I do show her love, and play with her often. But those are overruled by the episodes of of former punishment. I want to know how to fix this. Or if it’s even fixable. She doesn’t deserve to live in fear like that, and if you believe she would overall live a happier life rehomed.. I would be willing to do that for her. I do not want to. I want to make that clear. I do love her. I just have my own issues with temper. If you can provide some solutions and strategies to regain trust. Or have any advice.. she would appreciate it. This email is written for her. Thank you.

  • Lorellai | 13/12/2022

    Hello. Consider a therapy, for you and your better mental health.

  • Floss | 01/02/2023

    It will take time and I don’t think you can ever hit her again. One thing to do is hand feed her every meal.

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