Abused dogs behave differently than most dogs. They have trust issues, and as their owner, you’ll need to be patient while earning their trust. Trust only comes with time, love and plenty of treats.
Abused dogs are easily startled, and raising your voice or making a loud noise is often enough to send them cowering into the corner, or under the nearest object in an effort to avoid perceived danger and what they believe will be inevitable abuse. Some abused dogs may pee submissively when scared and it is important to never chastise them when this happens. As they become more confident, the submission peeing will stop. Some abused dogs can become aggressive when provoked and the level of aggression will depend on how much the dog was abused, and how traumatic the experiences were for the dog.
If you do decide to bring a previously abused dog into your home, you need to be gentle with your voice and with your gestures, and be calming when in their presence. You will want to do the following:
- Set up a bed or crate (with an open door) so your new dog has a safe place of his own to retreat to when frightened.
- Avoid high value treats until you know whether or not your new dog guards toys or food.
- Give your dog time to settle into your home and become comfortable with you.
- Reward improvements in behavior, and establish a routine.
- Avoid actions which trigger your new dog’s fear based behaviors, like walking into a room unannounced, or causing a commotion.
- Take your new dog to your vet right away, and do full blood work, running any tests your vet feels could help uncover any medical reasons for your dog’s fear-based behaviors. You may want to ask your vet about fear-alleviating medications, perhaps as a last resort.
- Exercise, training, walks, and outside time, will be a great way to strengthen the bond with your new dog, and if you can find a way to incorporate 20 to 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine, it’ll be beneficial to you both.
- Getting your new dog used to feeding times, walking routes and the daily routine will help him learn to trust you, so do your best as an owner to ease your new dog’s anxiety by being consistent.
- Never rush, or push the dog too hard. Let your new dog set the pace, and learn to recognize when the dog is uncomfortable in certain situations.
Special training is available for abused dogs, and it could benefit you, and the dog, if you seek the assistance of a behavioral trainer, preferably someone who has been recommended to you, and who is reputable. With the help of your dog behaviorist, you can properly evaluate your new dog and create a training program specifically designed for them. Working together, you will strengthen the bond with your new dog, and earn their trust.
Helping to turn around the life of an abused dog can be the most amazing experience, and watching them grow and learn to trust and love again, will make all the hard work totally worth it.
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