Does Smacking A Dog On The Nose Hurt Them?

Close-up of a dog's nose

Sometimes when I walk in the forest near my home, I see other dog owners playfully tapping or grabbing their dog’s nose. Some professionals suggest a corrective smack on the nose to teach them a behavior is not OK. A dog’s nose is his primary sense organ, so it made me wonder how sensitive their nose is. Here is what I found during my research.

Does Smacking A Dog On The Nose Hurt Them?

Yes! A dog’s nose is the softest part of its body. It is made of cartilage, blood veins and is 20 times more sensitive than a human nose. Smacking their nose feels for them like a sting from a bee and makes them sneeze. Smacking can make his nose bleed.

It would be best if you did not tap or smack a dog’s nose. The nose is the most sensitive area, which also makes them able to smell so much. A tap can make its nose bleed, or you can end up with a dog that is afraid of you. 

But what about a playful tap on the nose?

What Is The Purpose Of Smacking A Dog On The Nose?

It’s no secret that some people believe nose punching their dog is necessary. However, this method of discipline can actually lead to long-term problems for your pet. 

Often this method of punishment is used for aggressive dogs. Still, it’s essential to understand that this technique can backfire.

In addition to being cruel and inhumane, smacking a dog on the nose – or any other part of their body- can be highly ineffective as a form of discipline. Dog’s don’t learn from pain as humans do; they get scared or aggressive from it.

Instead of whacking your dog on his nose, try some of these methods instead to discipline problematic behavior:

  • Consistently ignore unwanted behavior and reward good behavior. This way, your pup learns actions have consequences. Dogs learn best by having rules and boundaries enforced consistently – they can’t understand when it’s OK to act aggressively or not.
  • Use an assertive voice. Dogs learn best when they receive clear instructions and limits from their owners. You can reinforce this with a lot of love, patience, consistency, and support for the pup’s behaviors that you do want to see more often. 
  • Encourage your pet by providing positive reinforcement – treats or other resources like passive guidance. Give your pup a clear visual sense of what you want them to do by using hand signals or other subtle cues.
  • Be patient with the dog’s natural instincts and allow it to sniff around on walks outside or in new environments instead of rushing things – this is reassuring for dogs who have been rescued from bad homes or kennels.

Is It OK To Touch A Dog’s Nose?

Your hands carry oils, dirt, and bacteria that can cloud a dog’s sense of smell. It gets worse if the bacteria cause an infection. A dog can respond aggressively in a natural response if he doesn’t like to be touched on his nose.

A dog will often shy away when you touch or grab his nose. It is an instinctual response to protect himself. His nose is the most valuable part of his body.

A dog will have moments where he comes to you and touches your arm or hand with his nose. He will do this to grab your attention. It is a form of communicating with you or other species. But remember, it will be on his initiative. 

So now you understand that dogs don’t like getting tapped on the nose and could hurt them. You should, by now, start to see that tapping or touching his nose will not teach him a behavior or correct it. 

You will only make your dog afraid of you or your hands. It can also trigger defensive behavior and can trigger aggressiveness.

What happens if I hit my dog on the nose?

Some dog trainers still teach to tap a dog on his nose to correct a behavior. Let me ask you this: Would you whack your kid to correct him when he does something he’s not allowed?

Two things can happen when you hit a dog on the nose. Either he will turn away from you and sneeze, or he will show aggression towards you. In both cases, his trust in you will decline with every hit.

Why should you never hit a dog on the nose? Because in the long run, it will create behavior issues in your dog. 

  • Creates trust issues between you and your dog
  • Reinforces aggression in some dogs
  • The dog can become afraid of you or your hands
  • Fear creates undesired behavior such as peeing on the couch, chewing furniture, or hiding
  • A dog can become extremely dominant or extremely submissive

These issues can set you on a very long path to rehabilitation.

Think about it, what if your dog becomes afraid of not only your hands but the hands of any human being? Your dog might show aggression when you come close with your hands. Do you still trust him around your spouse?

I Accidentally Hit My Dog On The Nose; How Can I Get Him To Trust Me Again?

By accident, you whacked your dog’s nose, and now you wonder how you can repair the damage done to your relationship. Although I don’t think the trust is broken if this happens by accident, what can you do to keep the bond strong?

Your dog can be scared or confused over the incident. 

Apologize to him. Make a fuss over it and exaggerate it. Pet him and say nice words and hug him. If it doesn’t help, then leave him alone and give him some time to forgive you. Eventually, he will come to you. Be nice to him and don’t hit him again.

As I said before, I don’t think one accidental hit will damage your relationship. It happened to me one time while playing with my kids.

I was sitting on my knees on the floor when I played with a ball with my son. I did know Mayla was around as she always is when we are playing. I tried to catch the ball from the air and lost my balance as I lifted one knee off the floor. I tried to reach for the floor with one hand, and while doing, I hit Mayla’s nose with my hand.

She turned around, sneezed, and shook her head. After that, she came to me to say sorry, as did I. We cuddled, and I petted her and said sorry. Everything was fine after that, and she continued playing.

It was an accident that happened while playing. I would never hurt my dog on purpose.

Can You Break A Dog’s Nose When You Smack Him?

Let me start by saying a dog never ever deserves to be whacked, just like any other living thing. 

A dog’s nose consists of bones and flesh. Hitting it hard can break it just like any other bone in the body can break. Smacking a dog so hard that it crushes bones is considered abuse.

Training a dog shouldn’t be with violence. Injuring a dog on purpose is considered abuse. You will not make your dog better or change a behavior; you will only make things worse.

Animal abuse is considered a felony.

If you don’t know how to fix a behavior, I suggest you hire a professional.

Does Spanking A Dog On The Nose Count As Animal Abuse?

You might be wondering if spanking your dog on the nose while teaching him new tricks and having fun is considered animal abuse.

Animal abuse can be defined as any unnecessary action that causes pain or injury towards your dog is considered animal abuse in most western countries.

So spanking a dog on the nose might not directly count as animal abuse; it is still an ineffective way of teaching him.


A dog’s nose is a vital sensory organ, and we know from years of study that they use it for everything from hunting prey, tracking scents, and telling someone has intruded on their territory or just being able to find their way home.

Spanking or hitting a dog in any part of his body causes unnecessary pain and suffering. Depending on the country you live in, causing pain and injury to your dog might be considered animal abuse.

A nose punch is not a proper way to discipline your dog. Suppose you find yourself in a difficult situation. In that case, it is important to remember he is not trying to be difficult on you or trying to be bad. 

He is just responding in a way he knows or has been trained.

If you don’t know how to unlearn or redirect his bad behavior, then please hire a professional to help you positively teach your dog.

Erwin Borgers

Hi, I’m Erwin. I grew up with two cats, but I always wanted to have a dog. Since my wife and I lived together, we have Mayla. She is a very sweet King Charles Spaniel. Together we spend countless of hours in the forest near our home. We love to walk together and now I want to share what I learned about walking dogs and what I learned about dog gear with you.

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