Dogs have great hearing, they can read body language, and are very intuitive. They are experts at reading physical cues. If you’ve ever picked up a leash, your keys, or looked towards the back door and had your dog respond, you’ve seen this skill in action.
Most dog owners will tell you that their pet knows when they’re happy, sad, scared, or angry. Has your dog ever tried to climb into your lap to offer you comfort, when you haven’t uttered a word? Or, have they left the room or hid when you’ve become angry? How about come running when you whispered something in an excited voice? For most of us, the answer is yes.
For these reasons, a loud voice is not needed to communicate with canines. In fact, yelling can be detrimental to your relationship with your dog. Not only does it instill negative energy into a situation, it also breeds chaos and fear.
Here are four reasons you should never yell at your dog:
1. Yelling at your dog will never replace training your dog
Dogs learn from training, repetition, and reinforcement. They have a strong desire to please, like to learn, and are reward oriented. Since dogs don’t speak human, when you yell, the dog will interpret your body language, tone, and volume and react accordingly. Often in fear, recoiling, or trying to escape the situation.
Even in the most trying of moments, yelling does not teach the dog anything, except that you’re angry. In fact, when dogs associate an action with something negative, experiments show they are slower to respond. By calmly correcting and training your dog, you can help the dog focus on you, and what you’re trying to communicate, rather than cause it to avoid a situation.
2. Yelling may teach your dog to sneak
Yelling at your dog might cause your dog to react in the exact opposite of what you want; in other words, cause your dog to sneak the unwanted behavior. If you yell at your dog and it becomes fearful, it will teach your dog to avoid getting yelled at rather than teaching your dog to perform a different behavior.
For example, if you yell at your dog for peeing on the rug, chances are all your dog will take away from the exchange is fear or avoidance. In fact, your dog just might start peeing on the rug when you’re not around. When you yell, the dog has not learned that peeing on the rug is unacceptable. Rather it has only learned to fear peeing on the rug in front of you, if it even made that association at all.
Stopping your dog before it pees on the rug, taking it to an acceptable place to pee, and rewarding it with praise and treats is a positive experience for you and your pet and much better than yelling.
3. Yelling at a dog can cause negative excitement
When humans loudly argue, rarely does it lead anywhere good. Often as voices get louder, so do the resulting emotions and regrets. It’s the same for dogs. When they get yelled at, rather than retreating in fear, they may get overly excited.
Overexcitement can cause barking, jumping, nipping, biting, running away, digging, chasing, destruction of objects, stress anxiety, nervousness, or other unwanted behaviors. It may be hard for a dog to calm down after being yelled at and any chance that the dog learned anything from the exchange, is probably nil.
Meanwhile calmly talking to and training your pet will help reinforce the bond you share and deescalate the situation, as well as your own frustration.
4. Yelling at your dog is not healthy for either of you
Having a pet can bring immeasurable joy to your life. A beloved dog can bring you love, companionship and, studies show, improve your health in many ways. However, yelling leads to anger, which is bad for your health. Anger causes inflammation, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. It also causes stress, which can contribute to a host of physical and mental ailments.
According to Psychiatry professor Edward Suarez of Duke University, “the role of inflammation in heart disease has emerged, scientists have found that high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) are a better predictor than high cholesterol for cardiovascular disease. High CRP levels are also associated with depression. In addition, studies have shown that angry (formerly known as "type A") or depressive personalities run a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.”
Dogs also experience stress when you yell. Stress can contribute to nervous behaviors, fear, mistrust, isolation, aggression, depression, and loss of appetite. A dog can hear even the slightest whisper and they want to please you, there really is no reason to yell.