Have you attempted to touch your dog fondly, play with it, or pat it on the head, only for it to recoil away from you like it thought you were going to hit it?

You might have been surprised to see your dog flinch, startle, or even move away from you swiftly, and now you’re wondering why your dog thinks you’re going to hit him.

There could be several reasons for such a reaction, and this post will discuss them, including what could cause fear and anxiety in your pet, how to recognize the signs, how to understand the message in your dog’s body language, as well as how to build trust when your dog is afraid of you.

The Causes of Fear and Anxiety in Dogs

There are several common reasons behind fear and anxiety in dogs, including abuse by a previous owner, shyness caused by having stayed in a shelter, a past accident and related trauma, as well as a history of being trained with negative punishment.

If your dog has been around aggressive animals, it could also develop anxiety.

The first thing to do when you think your dog is scared of you is to find out why they would be afraid. While investigating any of these possibilities, you should also find out if your actions or body language might have triggered a negative reaction.

Recognizing the signs of fear in dogs

To get it right, you need to study and recognize the signs of fear in your dog, so you can be certain that it reacted out of fear. Here are some very obvious signs of fear in your dog.

  • Turning its head away from you, facing sideways, or backwards.
  • Tucking its tail between its legs
  • Shaking, shivering, or panting excessively
  • Whining, barking, growling, or howling
  • Moving backwards, crouching, or attempting to escape
scared Border Collie Welpe

What Makes My Dog Believe I’m Going to Harm Him?

Understanding the root causes of fear and anxiety in dogs is crucial to help them feel safe and secure. Identifying potential triggers, such as past abuse, shelter stays, accidents, or exposure to aggressive animals, can help you develop a more empathetic approach towards your canine companion.

Pay attention to your dog’s body language and fear-based behaviors to better recognize when they are feeling scared or anxious. By doing so, you can adapt your own actions and communication to create a positive, nurturing environment for your dog, ultimately fostering a strong bond of trust and love between the two of you.

Physical Punishment and Its Effects on Dogs

Investigations have shown that most of the dogs who respond fearfully to physical gestures and even ordinarily unthreatening situations might have been victims of negative or inappropriate punishment.

Sadly, some dog owners still think that physical discipline is a good tool for training their dogs, despite evidence of the negative. Some acts of physical discipline that have negative effects on dogs include:

  • Using sharp leash movements for correction
  • Hitting the dog with a hand or an object
  • Kicking the dog
  • Using physical force to make it sit or crouch
  • Using the ‘Alpha Roll’ to get the dog in the submissive position
  • Yelling at the dog
  • Spraying water as punishment
  • In extreme cases, electric shocks 
Punishing dog

The effects of such physical punishment include fear, timidity, and even the potential to be aggressive. A dog that has been physically abused may be:

  • Withdrawn and distrustful of others
  • Shy, quiet, and reclusive
  • Afraid of people and surroundings 
  • If your Dog Thinks you’re Going to Hit Him he can even get Depressed
  • Unable to play or enjoy activities
  • Hostile and vicious 

Generally, when pets have been exposed to physical punishments like rolling over, hitting, or grabbing by the collar roughly, they might always feel fearful and conflicted when exposed to a similar circumstance.

Your dog might find it hard to tell whether your action is a friendly gesture or a punishment, and this makes them determine whether the approaching hand represents a friendly gesture or another incident of punishment. You will need to teach them how to get over this fear and respond positively to your actions and approaches.

Why Does My Dog Seem to Expect Physical Discipline from Me?

It is crucial for dog owners to shift their approach from physical punishment to positive reinforcement training methods.

By doing so, they can build a trusting and loving relationship with their dogs, transforming past negative experiences into a foundation for mutual understanding and growth.

This change in perspective and training techniques will not only enhance the emotional well-being of our canine companions but also enrich the lives of the humans who care for them.

Body Language and Communication in Dogs

Just as humans speak with their body language when they’re not using words, your dog might also be sending many messages with its body language such as its ear and eye motions, tail movements, as well as facial expressions.

When a dog is in a crouching position with its ears backwards, and its body held stiff, it is a sure sign of unhappiness.

scared dog waiting

It is important to understand your dog’s body language to ease the stress on its part, respond to it appropriately, and ensure a positive relationship built on communication. 

When your dog is Afraid of You Hitting Him, you will often see it respond with its entire body to whatever stimulus it finds fearful, licking its lips even when it isn’t hungry, or even yawning when it doesn’t feel tired. 

Some other signs are that your dog will cower while trembling and shaking, avoid eye contact with you, and lean back away from the frightening person or circumstances. 

However, even if your dog doesn’t show these active signs, there are some other signs you should watch out for. For instance, if your dog freezes whenever you reach towards it, avoids people who approach it, refuses to eat food and treats, or even shuts down, you should also know that there is a problem.

It is important to pay attention to these signs and work on them as soon as possible because a fearful can sometimes become aggressive if he continues being exposed to fearful stimuli or feels more threatened.

Ways to Build Trust and Reduce Fear in Dogs

Now that you understood all Reasons Behind My Dog’s Fear of Being Hit by MeYou need to work hard to reduce the fear in your pet and also build trust between you and your dog.

Building trust with your pet takes a lot of effort, patience, and time, but it is definitely worth it because when you build trust with your pet, your dog feels relaxed and can get closer to you on its own.

Here are some tips to help you build trust with your dog and reduce fear in them:

Give your dog some space

You might be tempted to get all close and chummy with your pet immediately because if your dog is shy or wary, he won’t be able to respond positively to your shows of affection.

So, try to give it space and approach it slowly, talk quietly, and avoid eye contact when dealing with a skittish dog.

Go Slow

Aim to build trust at a pace that your dog is comfortable with. Rushing them can negatively impact their progress and make it hard for them to trust you.

Go down to your dog’s level when communicating 

Fearful dogs will be even more fearful when you tower over them, so it is important to approach them at their level, whether by squatting or sitting on the floor.

However, also maintain some space and comfortable distance between them.

Touch and Test

Touch your dog gently while observing its body language to see if your dog is comfortable with the interaction.

If they lean in towards you, they are comfortable, but if they move away and show signs of fear, give them some space and don’t force your attention on them. 

Be calm

When your dog comes to you, talk to it in a calm, positive voice, give them food and treats, and monitor them.

If they don’t touch it, take it roughly, or show anxious signs, talk to them softly and offer again. If they take it, you can offer a few more. Otherwise, you can stop and try again later.

Use Positive Reinforcement 

Positive-reinforcement training involves the use of non-confrontational methods to establish positive interactions and situations, such that your pet becomes more comfortable approaching you, responds positively to your approaches, and does away with the fear it feels towards you.

rebuilding your dogs trust

Reward-based training is always a good way to get your dog to learn something new or change a habit, and it can help to deal with fear as well.

For instance, you can give your pet treats, food, or toys every time it allows you to pet it, or when it approaches you, and reward signs of trust towards you.

Your dog will eventually learn that only good things will happen when he approaches you and doesn’t shy away from you. Before long, you will be in a comfortable place with your pet where he is no longer afraid that you will hit it.

Understanding My Dog’s Apprehension About Physical Punishment

The journey of fostering trust and alleviating fear in your dog ultimately leads to a deeper, more meaningful connection with your pet.

This process, though it may be challenging, has the potential to transform your relationship and create a nurturing and supportive environment for your dog.

As you embark on this journey, remember that the bond you are cultivating will enrich both your lives and create a lifelong, trusting partnership.


While trying to get your dog to stop to Think You are Going to Hit Him, it is important to study the signs, work on building trust, and make your pet feel more comfortable with you whenever you approach.

Treat your pet with respect and kindness because he has most likely been exposed to the opposite for a long time, hence, the negative reactions. However, once there is love, trust, and understanding between you, your relationship will improve positively.

Always embrace positive training techniques when dealing with your pet because they are more effective and successful.  

Princess Egieya


Princess Egieya is a thriving radio presenter and newscaster with a few years of media experience and many more years penning words to life. The Mass Communication graduate from the University of Benin has a keen interest in current affairs, a knack for communicating, and a skill with words. She loves writing about everything there is to write about, just as much as learning all that there is to learn out there.


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