There is no complete or consistent explanation as to why people are sadistic or cruel to pets. In those who choose to work with pets as an occupation, a commonality would appear to exist in a tendency to view the animals as “other” or significantly different to people.
Hunter and Brisbin (2016) explain that the person may feel threatened by the existence of the pet, whether it be emotionally, egotistically, or physically.
Under such circumstances, any cruel behavior is seen to be “justified” as “teaching” the pet a lesson, ”and/or there may be a motivation to nullify the “other “by inflicting suffering.
Hunter and Brisbin (2016,p.19) conclude that cruelty “in its various forms is thus a human emotional and cognitive response to perceptions or predictions of unpleasant contacts with companion animals.”
Meanwhile, from an animal’s perspective, it is in no way in his best interests to intentionally set out to be what a human may perceive to be “annoying” or “frustrating” or to inflict pain on his caregivers, yet how many times do we hear a pet owner or professional say a dog is being “stubborn” or “naughty?”
Hunter, S., & Brisbin, R.A. (2016). Pet Politics. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press