Study Finds Yelling At Your Dog Affects Them More Than We May Think

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis

We know that yelling when we’re angry doesn’t typically produce beneficial results, but we are all human and it happens. A new study, however, showed that just because dogs don’t understand our words, that doesn’t mean they aren’t affected by our anger and the tone in our voice. It’s good food for thought and why we shouldn’t ever yell at our furbabies.


Researchers from the University of Porto found that yelling at your dog can have negative consequences. Dr. Ana Catarina Vieira de Castro was the lead author of the study in which 92 companion dogs took part.

The dogs were separated into two groups. One group was trained with positive reinforcements–kind words, games and treats. The other group was trained with ‘aversive’ training–yelling, yanking your dog’s leash, etc.

The researchers monitored the stress levels in the dogs and observed their licking, yawning and leg-lifting. They also measured relaxation levels and utilized saliva samples to assess anxiety and nervousness. Additionally, they looked at the dog participants' cortisol levels (as well as other chemicals related to stress).

Not surprisingly, the team found that the dogs who were trained with aversive training had higher levels of stress than the dogs trained with positive reinforcement. What was surprising was that the dogs who had been yelled out still showed elevated levels of stress hormones well over a month after the study started.

In an interview with European News, the team said, “Our results show that companion dogs that have been trained using harsher methods have poorer welfare than companion dogs trained using reward-based methods, both in the short-term and in the long-term.”

Conversely, dogs in the positive reinforcement group were more stable and calmer even weeks after the study was over.

This means while it may be second-nature for you to jump and scream when Fido is eating your favorite shoe, take note that your voice becomes his inner voice and may affect him well into the future.

Makes you want to go snuggle your pup right now, doesn’t it?

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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