Can I grab my dog by the neck?

Even though some would argue that dogs don’t feel any pain when you scruff them, their main argument being that their mothers carried them by the scruff when they were puppies, this isn’t true. Adult dogs can’t be carried around like that, even the smallest of breeds.

According to the theory behind “scruff shaking,” mother dogs discipline their pups by biting and shaking them by the scruff of the neck. Discover more about this practice and risks.

There are many different kinds of methods and techniques for training dogs, but those that emphasize confrontation and punishment-based training are known to subject dogs to unneeded stress and fear.

One technique that has been popularized by books and television shows involves grabbing the puppy or dog by the scruff and shaking him when he is acting out.

Since it has been practiced for a long time, scruff shaking dogs has frequently been justified as species-typical behavior, meaning that it is based on what dogs do to other dogs.

According to the theory behind “scruff shaking,” mother dogs discipline their pups by biting and shaking them by the scruff of the neck.

Dogs allegedly use “scuff shakes” to communicate with other canines. As previously stated, a dangerous “scruff shaking trend” that suggests it as a way for humans to correct unfavorable behavior in dogs has been promoted by several television shows and some books in recent years.

It has been suggested that dog owners can mimic mother dogs’ or other dogs’ scruff shaking by shaking the puppy’s or dog’s scruff or by sticking their fingers into the puppy’s neck.

Scruff shaking is based on positive punishment, so when used appropriately, it is intended to lessen and cease an undesirable behavior.

Using positive punishment-based methods to change canine behavior can have a wide range of unintended consequences.

Scruff shaking, alpha rolls, and other physical methods of punishment have a negative impact on the relationship between the dog and owner and increase the likelihood of defensive aggression.

Dogs may learn to react to any hand movement toward them with defensive behaviors like growling, snapping, and even biting as the owners hands quickly turn into a threat rather than a source of rewards.

In a study by Meghan Herron, DVM, DACVB, Frances Shofer, and Ilana Reisner, DVM, DACVB, of the Matthew Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, it was discovered that dogs reacted aggressively when their owners used harsh confrontational methods.

To be more specific, just to give you an idea, 43% of dogs reacted aggressively when hit or kicked, 39% reacted to an alpha roll, 38% reacted aggressively when their owner grabbed their mouth and forcibly removed an object, and 26% reacted defensively when given a scruff shake.

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Your Dog’s Skin Isn’t As Thick As You May Think

A dog’s neck skin is thicker than ours, so shouldn’t it be able to withstand some abrasion?

As it turns out, this isn’t true.

The epidermis, or the outermost layer of your dog’s skin, is 3-5 cells thick but for humans, it is at least 10-15 cells thick.

Skin thickness varies across the body, breeds, and individuals, though overall, a dog’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than ours, which is also why something as harmless as human shampoo can damage it.

If Scruffing Hurts, Does It Make For Good Discipline?

We’ve established that it’s uncomfortable and painful to grab your dog by the scruff, especially when you carry her so that her scruff bears the weight of her body.

Does that imply that it would be a suitable punishment for her?

Some dog training manuals and trainers advise using the “scruff shake” to discipline your dog.

Usually, the instructions are to shake your dog until they stop struggling, then to forcefully release them after staring them in the eyes until they turn away.

Sounds like it’s based on modern science, right?

If that sounds strange, cruel, and inhumane, kudos to you for being a civilized human being.

Those who continue to do this defend it by saying that your dog’s mother would have punished her similarly, which is not only false but completely illogical.

Because of our incredible ape brains, humans have discovered a wide variety of wonderful ways to interact with dogs.

If you need help with training, please do not hesitate to contact me, look through the blog archives, or work with a certified dog trainer from the ADPT or CCPDT directory.

What Studies Say

Shaking by the neck is a predatory action used by dogs to kill prey. For a normal mother dog to act in that manner would be very counterproductive.

Mother dogs may carry their pups in their mouths to move them from one location to another and when they do so, they are very gentle. The belief that scruff shaking is a species typical behavior carried out by mother dogs is unfounded and several studies have proven that.

Out of 190 breeders, 97 participated in a study that involved watching how mother dogs and their puppies interacted. Only 2% said they had never seen a mother dog shake her pups by the scruff (Hallgreen 1990).

Scuff shaking was reported as being uncommon and rare even among the thousands of cases of dog aggression (Schilder and Netto, 1991).

This evidence suggests that scruff shaking is not only inappropriate but also harmful and potentially dangerous.


Is it OK to pick up a dog by its neck?

Although some dog moms carry their puppies by the scruff, doing so is not advised. Since humans lack the innate knowledge of how to properly carry dogs by the scruff, we run the risk of inflicting harm or injury.

What happens when you grab dog their neck?

grabbing a dog by the scruff to control them and keep them from inflicting harm on other people, other animals, or themselves But grabbing a dog by the scruff can harm the sensitive neck tissue and even result in serious injury.

Is it OK to grab a dog by the collar?

We want your dog or puppy to feel comfortable being caught while they are loose because it may be necessary at some point in their lives. Trying to grab a dog’s collar can frighten some dogs into nipping at your hand, while intimidating other dogs into backing off so that you can’t get their collar.