Yelled at Your Dog? The Truth About What It Does To Your Pup

Have you yelled at your dog? Did you know that yelling at your furry companion hurts them? I know we’ve all done it. That split moment where you lose your ever-loving mind and then regret it. Perhaps you walked in the door after a long day to find your new shoes shredded and your dog sitting in the remains looking rather pleased with his conquest. You take one look at the scene and lose it. Maybe you find a few words stumbling out of your mouth that you don’t even recognize. You just yelled at your dog. Then you stop and look at this dog you love and treasure in most moments. He’s now looking at you confused and scared. What just happened? 

I call that a life moment. Here’s the beauty of a life moment. We get to learn from them. 

Let’s look at this scenario a bit closer. 

Have you yelled at your dog only to see them hang their head?
Budget Tip:

While you may think your dog doesn't really understand, your dog understands emotions. You made a lifetime commitment to your dog. Just like you wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings or crush them, you don't want to do this to your dog. Plus, it could cause other behavior issues if yelling continues. This would ultimately hit your pocketbook with an eventual vet visit to find out why your dog is acting or behaving oddly. It's a budget-wise and human-wise thing to not yell at your dog (or pets).

Is it okay to yell at your dog? 

not ok to yell at dog

No. It confuses your dog when you yell

He doesn’t understand what your saying. Remember the Peanuts cartoons when Charlie Brown and his friends would talk to an adult? The adults would all sound like “rrrrrrrrrrrr” Well, that’s what your dog is hearing. BUT, when you’re yelling he’s hearing AND feeling your anger. 

Try it from your dog’s perspective. You’re whole world just got turned upside down. Everything you knew you don’t see anymore. You have a new home and you love your family. They even give you toys and yummy food. Then suddenly one of them walks in yell at you. What does it mean? Will my world change again? You’d be confused and fearful too. 

1. Your dog associates yelling with the wrong thing.

Additionally, if I yell at my dog for doing something wrong and it’s past the time he actually did it, he won’t understand. He’ll associate the yelling with what’s happening at the current moment.

For instance, if I yell at my dog for chewing my new shoes, but he did it an hour ago, he’ll not make the connection. He’ll make the connection with me walking and being mad at him. So, instead of him greeting me happily, he’ll learn to fear me coming home. 

Discover how to teach your dog basic obedience on your schedule and for free here.

Rescue tip


Additionally, if you have a rescue dog, keep in mind that you may not know his entire history. My dog is a rescue. The way he responds to certain things, like if someone raises their hand quickly, (he’ll sit, fold pin his ears to his head, and get as small as possible, while half shaking) tells me he was negatively trained by his original owners. While your dog may not be able to speak your language, he can talk to you. Be aware of what he says and react appropriately. 

2. Your dog will fear his name. 

If I say my dog’s name while yelling or in a negative way, he will learn his name is not a positive thing. He’ll not come when I call him and he’ll have fear when he hears it. Not exactly the reaction I want from my dog. I’m certain it’s not the reaction you want from your dog either. 

This is similar to how when you’re a kid and your mom says your entire name. You know when the whole name came out, you were in BIG trouble and in immediate fear.

3. Yelling negatively affects your dog

A recent study from the University of Porto in Portugal showed that negatively trained dogs, meaning those dogs that are trained with yelling and leash jerking, had an increase in stress behaviors. These behaviors included lip licking and yawning. They also tested these negatively trained dogs’ cortisol levels and found they’d increased as well. Even though this study wasn’t huge, the results aren’t surprising. I know if I get yelled at, I feel awful. It would make sense that another feeling animal would do the same. 

Vocal tone tip


It should also be mentioned that most dogs react very easily to vocal cues. If I raise my voice in the least, my dog will sit and look nervous. He may not shake. However, many dogs shake with a raised voice or yelling. Even I if say, “OH NO! I’m out of coffee!”. The opposite is also true. If I say in a happy voice, “My work is done for the day!” He’ll dance and be happy too. He bounces off my emotions. As I said earlier, dogs hear AND feel emotions. 

In this article, I talk about what your dog’s bark means.

What do I do when my dog misbehaves? 

All dogs and humans will misbehave from time to time. That’s the nature of growing and learning. It’s how you react to those situations that makes all the difference. There are ways to react in a calm or better way than yelling.

Have you yelled at your dog and gotten this sad puppy dog look?

1. Take a deep breath and count to 10

Never physically harm your dog. Remove yourself from the situation if you’re really angry. Never yell at your dog. 

2. Remember why you got your dog. 

Think back to your dog goals. If you don’t think you have any dog goals, don’t worry.

In this article, I discuss setting dog goals and adjusting them

3. Focus on positive reinforcements. 

Enroll in training or behavior classes. Dogs that are trained in a positive manner do much better. Think about when you’re at work and get yelled at by your boss. Do you like it? Probably not. Then think back to a boss who wanted something done differently and explained it in a calm and professional way. How did that make you feel in comparison? More respected? More understood? That’s the difference between a good leader and a leader who rules by fear. Be a good pack leader for your dog. 

Learn how homemade dog treats help your pup and your wallet.

Marc Bekoff, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, has stated that “[Reward-based/positive training] may take time, but so what? At least the dog isn’t living in fear or constant stress.

Related articles:

Summary of Have You Yelled at Your Dog? 

While it can be easy to lose your cool when you see something you really like destroyed by your furry dog, it’s not okay to yell at him. Yelling at your dog will confuse him, have him associate the yelling with the wrong thing, make him fear his name, and most importantly it physically negatively affect your dog. Instead of yelling try taking a deep breath and counting to 10, remembering your dog goals, and re-focusing on positive reinforcements. 

Yelled at your dog and have them pull up in a ball?

What do you do when your dog misbehaves?

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About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

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