News Flash for Dog Guardians: Five Ways You May Be Unknowingly Abusing Your Dog

For Immediate Release:
April 21, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va.

It should be common sense not to choke, cage, drag, or smack someone, but people do this to dogs all the time, often without thinking—and sometimes believing that it’s acceptable or even recommended. PETA is now calling out five common types of dog abuse that must stop—including using choke collars and electric fences, confining dogs to crates all day and sometimes all night, and rushing them on their walks. As PETA put it in a recent tweet that was one of the group’s most popular ever, “Your dog wouldn’t do this to you—don’t do it to them.” Here are the five big types of abuse and their humane alternatives:

  1. Shock collars—as well as choke and prong collars and electric/invisible fences—can cause chronic anxiety, displaced aggression, and serious injuries, including burns, spinal cord injuries, and paralysis. Instead, give dogs comfortable, well-fitting harnesses and protect them with physical fencing.
  2. Crating may be convenient for humans, but for dogs, it’s solitary confinement, and it causes these highly social pack animals to become depressed and withdrawn—sometimes reluctant to come out of the crate—and leads to other psychological problems. Instead, take dogs for long morning walks, dog-proof the house, and provide plenty of toys. When you can’t be at home, take dogs to doggie daycare, hire a reputable dog-walker, or leave them with a trusted friend or family member.
  3. Rushing a dog through a walk is never OK. Dogs “read the news” with their remarkable sense of smell and get the lay of the land on their neighborhood walks. Being allowed to take their time is important for their mental and physical health. Don’t drag them along at your pace as if they were little red wagons, stare at your phone, take them out only to the front lawn for a hurried pee, or chide them when they pause. Instead, take dogs out often, take them to interesting places, and let them choose the pace and direction of their walks.
  4. Hitting, kicking, slapping, or otherwise bullying a dog is abuse—and yes, that includes swatting them with a newspaper or shoving them off the furniture. Such mistreatment causes physical and psychological harm. Instead, use positive reinforcement, like treats. Buy a punching bag if you need to take your frustrations out on something.
  5. Yelling at or punishing dogs for barking is unacceptable. Barking is as natural for dogs as talking is for humans (and most people are constantly yakking, on phones and in person, as well as listening to others on their screens)—and punishing them for barking is as cruel as silencing a human would be. Instead, speak kindly to your dog and try to understand what they’re communicating when they bark—it could be something important! If you can’t tolerate the sound of a dog barking, don’t get a dog. (And if you can tolerate barking and decide to get a dog, remember the homeless-animal crisis and always adopt, never shop.)

“Anyone who cages dogs, electroshocks them, or rushes them along on the walks that are their only time to sniff and explore the outside world is abusing someone who deserves to be treated like their best friend,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA urges everyone to recognize that dogs are sensitive, social beings who are members of the family and who deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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