It’s a dog owner’s responsibility to train and control their animal, but how this is done matters. If you punish your dog or use negative reinforcement, you could be increasing the risk that your pet will attack or cause harm to someone else. Here’s what to know and how to get qualified legal help if you or a loved one were bitten or attacked by a dog.
The Effects of Physical Punishment on Children & Animals
While physical punishment and negative reinforcement might work in the immediate short term to stop unwanted behavior, it does a lot of damage to the relationship between the owner and their pet.
The same is true of children, according to Psychology Today, which cited a 2008 APA study by the American Psychological Association. The report looked at 27 cases of children who were reprimanded with physical punishment and in every case, the children went on to develop aggressive behavior.
Why Doesn’t Fear-Based Training Work?
Aversive training methods like physical punishment and even periods of isolation make it difficult for dogs to trust their owner. This often extends to other people and dogs who are abused in response to unwanted behavior can easily become afraid or suspicious of humans in general.
Dogs become insecure in their home environment and are constantly afraid of when the next time their owner will inflict pain. They rarely associate the punishment with the crime and only learn that their owner can’t be trusted and that they aren’t ever really safe.
Animals who are physically punished often go on to develop other unwanted behaviors, even when the original behavior ceases. This includes issues like hiding, growling at people, nipping, and even urinating themselves in fear. They’re constantly afraid and feeling threatened, which significantly increases the risk of the dog attacking someone. It takes much less to provoke these animals and it’s often innocent bystanders that pay the price.
What Works Instead
While physically dominating a dog won’t do much more than create a fearful, guarded relationship in the long-term, controlling a dog’s access to resources is much more effective. This teaches the dog that obedience is necessary without also ingraining that you are to be feared or that abuse is imminent.
Reward-based training is also effective, particularly when encouraging certain behaviors as opposed to discouraging others. Instead of tearing down pillars of trust between a dog and their caretaker, it helps establish, define, and build them. The animal learns how it’s expected to behave and forms a genuine desire to please their owner.
In time and with the right training, dogs may even begin to respond just to their owner’s disappointment or frustration with them. Dogs who have formed a loving, trusting bond with their caregiver don’t want to upset them, making it far easier to shape the animal’s behavior.
When the Type of Training Matters in a Dog Bite Case
Both Massachusetts and New Hampshire are strict liability states, meaning that owners are always responsible for the actions of their animals regardless of the way they were trained. But if you can prove that the dog was abused or purposely trained to be aggressive, the owner may face additional legal consequences.
For example, if you were mauled by a dog that was trained for fighting, the owner may also face criminal charges for assault with a deadly weapon. But even if the owner trained their dog properly and never hit or beat the animal, they can still be held liable for any damages you incur.
Bitten By a Dog? Get Experienced Legal Help Today
If you or a family member suffered a dog attack or were bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to financial compensation. And if you have evidence that the owner physically punished their dog, abused them, or intentionally trained them to be violent, you may be able to get a higher settlement and the owner may be criminally charged.
At Mazow | McCullough, PC, our caring and compassionate attorneys have the experience and skills needed to provide you with zealous legal advocacy. We’ve represented many families just like yours and will exhaust every possible avenue to ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible.
Call our office now to schedule your free initial consultation or to learn more about how filing a dog bite claim can help you and your loved ones recover financially, physically, and emotionally after being attacked by a vicious dog. Contact us by dialing our Salem, MA office at (978) 744-8000 or call toll free at (855) 693-9084.