The last thing you as a dog lover want to do is hurt a dog. This is especially true for dog owners.
As a dog owner, you feel the weight of responsibility. You have a living, loving companion in your care so you do your best to make them comfortable and happy. But there are things that we as humans do that can hurt your pup.
You’re not inflicting harm or pain on your pooch directly. You wouldn’t even dare think to, but some of your behaviors might not make sense to your dog…like yelling.
It could be yelling or raising your voice in a situation that’s outside of your control, but this volume actually causes stress on your dogs.
Here are some points to keep in mind before you raise your voice, or yell, in front of your dog.
Dogs Are Empathetic
Dogs are already empathetic, highly sensitive creatures. They can pick up on the character of people and react to the way we treat them. If they feel threatened, they might coil back or lash out of defensive instincts.
There’s something known as ‘emotional contagion’.
It’s what happens between dogs and people and it strengthens over time. The Bark explains, “emotional contagion is the trigger of an emotional response due to perceiving a similar emotional state in another individual. Emotional contagion has been studied extensively in birds, primates and dogs, among other animals. It is generally more pronounced between individuals who know each other than between strangers.”
What you see is dogs growing more sensitive to their owner’s emotions over the duration of the companionship, and their behavior may reflect that. It’s been theorized that because of this emotional contagion, dogs can feel what their human is feeling. That includes stress.
Yelling Is Confusing
Dogs can only understand so many words we speak. When it comes to communication, they rely mostly on tone and pitch. Picking up on words just happens along the way. So when you’re yelling at, or in front of your pup, you might be sending mixed signals that cause stress.
According to VCA Hospitals, “Dogs respond to certain intonations and volumes, regardless of what is being said. For example, if you speak at a regular volume, then suddenly shout, your dog will know that something is up and he should pay attention. Similarly, your dog detects tonal changes from happy to demanding, or sad to cheerful.”
The Painful Evidence of Yelling
Science Alert reported on a study that looked at how yelling can have adverse effects on dogs. What they were able to figure out in this study was that yelling does have short-term and long-term effects on dogs.
In the study, dogs were each filmed for 15 minutes per training session. This happened over a duration of three training sessions. At the start of the study, saliva samples were taken from the dogs after the subjects were well-relaxed at home. Then samples were taken after the training.
They used the saliva samples to measure the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The samples were looked at next to their behavior during the training sessions, looking for signs of stress like yawning, lip-licking, yelping, and paw-raising.
The dogs showed signs of elevated stress in aversive training versus when they were at home.
The study explained, “By contrast, the positive reinforcement dogs were pretty chill - far fewer stress behaviors, and much more normal cortisol levels.”
This is just a sampling of tips and informational posts we offer at Joyride Harness. You can find more content including tips and tricks and how-tos for caring for your dog on our blog at this section. Feel free to leave a comment with tips you’re looking for!