Can Dogs Feel Bullying?

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Introduction

Bullying is a huge problem these days amongst both adults and children. This is partly down to the digital revolution, which has resulted in people not only being bullied in person, but also online. Bullying can cause massive problems for the children and adults who fall victim to it.

However, what about our pets? Do our dogs know when they are being bullied by humans or by other dogs? Well, we know that dogs feel pain and fear, and when they are being bullied, the perpetrator will instill fear into them, which means that although they don’t know that they are being bullied as such they will still feel the effects. 

Signs Your Dog May be Getting Bullied

Your dog may not know what the word bullying means but if they are being bullied by other dogs or by humans, they will certainly feel it. We know that dogs feel fear and pain and when they are being bullied, they will feel some level of fear because of the way in which another animal or a human is acting toward them. Of course, some dogs may respond to bullying in the same way as some humans respond to it – with aggression. This is something that is often sparked by fear and being defensive.

Other dogs may react differently to bullying by another dog or a human. They may act really timidly, put their tail between their legs, their ears may be flat, and they may become submissive. Dogs that become really fearful as a result of bullying might even cower and hide away somewhere – it really depends on the nature and the temperament of the dog. 

Some dogs become very withdrawn when they are being regularly bullied just in the same way as a child might. Other dogs may develop an aggressive streak as a result of the bullying. Just like humans, the reactions of dogs will vary from one to another.   

Often, you can tell if a dog is being bullied by their body language. For example, if the perpetrator of the bullying comes into the room, you may notice your dog’s tail go between their legs and their ears go down. Your dog may attempt to hide somewhere or back away from the person or other animal in question. 

Alternatively, your dog may show signs of aggression such as snarling, growling, baring their teeth, and snapping. Again, the body language can vary based on the nature of the dog and how it reacts to being bullied by the other dog or a person.

Body Language

Signs your dog is being bullied include:
  • Growling
  • Ears drop
  • Snapping
  • Tail tucking
  • Exposed teeth

Other Signs

More indications that your dog feels bullied are:

  • Staying by your side
  • Subdued and depressed behavior
  • Loss of interest in going out
  • Loss of appteite

The Types of Dogs that Get Bullied

Bullying amongst humans has been around for centuries in one form or another. Of course, these days, the way in which bullying is carried out has changed because it is not a subtle form as it once was. These days, kids and even adults are being teased and bullied relentlessly at school or work. 

In addition, they are also subjected to online bullying as a result of our move into the digital age and our obsession with social media. Of course, dogs don’t have to worry about online bullying. However, being bullied ‘in person’ by a person or another dog can create issues.

Research has shown that the types of dogs that tend to fall victim to bullying are those that are timid or very good natured. Even if these dogs are large in size, experts have concluded that if they fall into these personality categories, they are at an increased risk of being bullied.

Some dogs will bully more submissive dogs in obvious ways such as stealing their toys or eating their food before they get the chance. Dogs that are good natured or timid will often not fight back but will simply let the other dog get on with it and as a result it becomes a more regular occurrence.    

The Science of Dog Bullying

So, what makes a dog the target of bullying? Well, first off, research has shown that aggressive dogs are less likely to become targets of bullying by other dogs. However, they may become targets of bullying from humans and even victims of abuse, which may be why they are aggressive in the first place. 

More timid dogs and those with a sweet nature are less likely to stand up for themselves against humans or other dogs. This then makes them a prime target for bullying. Dogs can then lose confidence and become very withdrawn over time, just as many humans do.

Determining if Your Pooch is Being Bullied

It is important to remember that you may never realize that your pooch is being bullied unless you look out for the signs. Dogs will not necessarily be bullied in front of you, as if they were to be then you could do something about it. Often, the bullying will take place when you are not around, such as another household dog bullying the first dog while they are in the garden or at meal times when they are left to their own devices to eat.

The only way to get an idea as to whether your dog may be the victim of bullying is to look out for the signs as mentioned earlier. If your dog has always been pretty confident and happy but starts to become withdrawn and timid, this could be a sign of bullying. 

If your dog starts to back away or act nervously around a particular person or dog, this could also be a sign of bullying. It is important to watch the reaction of your pet if you think there may be something amiss, as this can provide you with valuable clues as to whether bullying may be taking place.

If your dog does show signs of being bullied, you should try and work out who or what is causing the issue. Often, your dog will show signs of being bullied around the perpetrator although some dogs will begin to show signs of nervousness on a continual basis if they are bullied regularly. 

If you can pinpoint the person or animal that is bullying your dog, you can take steps to address the situation with the person or the owner of the other dog in question. In addition, try and make sure you boost your dog’s self-confidence levels by encouraging them to meet new people and other dogs on a regular basis and in a controlled environment such as socialization classes. 

How to React to Your Dog Being Bullied:

  • Try and boost the confidence of your pet through increased socialization.
  • Try to determine who or which other animal is bullying your pet.
  • Check for signs that your dog may be getting bullied.