I imagine that most people get angry at our dogs sometimes, or upset over something they have done. I get annoyed at LarryDog when he barks and barks at the dog next door, or a bit upset when Lola destroys another plant from our garden. (We stopped growing carrots after she dug up and ate the whole crop, but that’s another story.)
When you are angry or upset, you should take a time out for yourself from the dog, whether you are training at the moment or not, till you can collect yourself. This needn’t be a physical time out – I often find that just turning away from my dog for a moment while I take a deep breath or two is sufficient. Try this sometime yourself.
The thing is that you are not likely to make the best choices in communicating while you are fuming. A simple firm “no” should be enough at that moment for just about any behavior you dislike. People often assume that if the dog did something that we would call “wrong,” that the dog will evaluate it the same way and understand that the reason we are screaming at the top of our lungs and waving our arms around is that he was “bad.”
People sometimes say, “But the dog looked so guilty…” Well, I am not positive that dogs feel guilt. It’s an emotion that is derived from doing something we know to be “wrong.” Do dogs think that way? My best guess is that when a dog looks “guilty,” he is probably reacting to your anger. He can certainly tell that you are not a happy camper at that moment, whether or not he has any clue about why. I think his responses are more to your body language than to the fact that, say, he pooped on the Oriental carpet sometime in the past ten hours while you were out.
Another common assumption is that this ranting act will teach the dog how you want him to change his behavior. If you just caught him doing something you don’t want him to, it could work – though arguably not as well as a more reasoned approach on your part.
So in sum: if you are angry with your dog, or upset with him, take time out to cool down. I think you will be glad you did.