Full Title: The Effects of Domestic Violence on Dogs
Author: Amber Lawrence
Date of Publication: March 18, 2023
Research Paper Text:
The Effects of Domestic Violence on Dogs
Amber L. Lawrence
March 3, 2023
Toxic environments are not healthy for anyone, including our beloved canine companions. Domestic violence has an adverse effect on the dog’s physical and mental health. Even in situations where the dog is not being mistreated directly, there can be indirect consequences that may cause behavior or physical issues.
“Like people, dogs suffer trauma just from witnessing violence.”(Psychology Today.) A statement I can personally attest to as I watched the personalities of my own two dogs alter with the change in environment. Bambi, an 8-year-old chihuahua-dachshund mix and Buttercup, a 2-year-old yorkshire terrier both have affectionate personalities. Living in a temporarily stressful environment, Bambi had become more protective, remaining at my side, and barking at everyone and everything. Where Bambi was my dog 4 years prior to this abusive relationship, Buttercup had only known this toxic environment from 9-weeks-old. She would hide while shaking uncontrollably at the verbal and physical attacks she witnessed her human leader endure and to this day does not like loud noises or sudden movement.
Neither dog was physically abused, yet they were affected by the violent atmosphere. Roman Gottfried states “in an instance of domestic violence between partners, dogs will immediately assume that if love is not being shown, the victim may be at risk of death. This manifests as insecurities, nervousness, helplessness, and even aggression.” (Roman’s Holistic Dog Training.)
Effects of toxic environments can be physical, mental, and emotional. Physical effects include loss of appetite and physically-manifested illnesses. According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, “up to 70% of domestic violence victims report having a pet, and when a batterer causes violence in the home, it can be inflicted on the pet as well.” Behavior issues that may arise from exposure to violence include anxiety, fear, or aggression. “A pet that is exposed to domestic violence can have troubling behavioral issues that last a lifetime and can, if not addressed, create difficulties in their care.” (The Conway Daily Sun.)
Neglect can be caused by domestic violence situation resulting from varying physical or financial circumstances. The dog may go long periods of time without proper food, veterinary care, or affection. According to Jill Elliot and Kim Bloomer, during times of high stress, “the caregiver should be alert to the possible negative effects of stress. It’s a time to add extra care, love, perhaps evens some supplements and vitamins to the diet, to help the dog’s body and psyche deal with the added stress.” Dogs do not get to choose the environment in which they live. It is the responsibility of the owner to remove them from the violent situation and see they are treated with the love and care they deserve.
Elliot, Jill, and Kim Bloomer. Whole Health for Happy Dogs: A Natural Health Handbook for Dogs and Their Owners, Quarry Books, Gloucester, MA, 2006, pp. 37–37.
Gottfried, Roman. Roman’s Holistic Dog Training. “Domestic Violence and the Effects on Dog’s Psyche.”
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. “Why Pets Mean So Much: The Human-Animal Bond in the Context of Intimate Partner Violence. Vawnet.org. September 2014.
Psychology Today. “Domestic Violence Affects Pets Too.” https://www.psychology today.com. December 22, 2021.
The Conway Daily Sun. “It’s not Always a Dog’s Best Life: Domestic Violence Affects Pets.” Conwaydailysun.com. January 29, 2020.