How to Help Your Dog Overcome an Abusive Past

How to Help Your Dog Overcome an Abusive Past

There is nothing worse than abuse, especially when the inhumane treatment is directed at a victim that cannot properly defend themselves. Abuse is something that would never happen in a perfect world, and unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. Animal abuse happens every day leaving many dogs wounded and mentally defeated, scared for their lives. If you have an adopted dog, you know or suspect may have suffered abuse, or are thinking of adopting with an abusive past you need to know how to help him get through the physical and emotional traumas.

There are many different types of animal abuse, some are physical, some are developmental and some are emotional.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is what instantly comes to mind when most people think of animal abuse. This type of abuse includes beating, hitting, kicking and chocking the dog for any reason, as well as keeping a dog tied up or restrained in a crate or cage for extended periods. Physical abuse also includes improper hygiene, grooming and not taking your animal in for medical care when needed.

Developmental Abuse

Most people probably do not think about the developmental abuse that can come into play with animals. This type of abuse would include removing a puppy from its mother too soon or not teaching proper socialization and skills.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is just as damaging to a dog as physical abuse. Abusive yelling, isolation and neglect as well as subjecting a dog to unnecessary stress are all types of emotional abuse. This type of abuse can have lasting emotional damage on a dog.

Abused dogs will typically be extremely shy and overly cautious of people. They may end up hiding under tables and be extremely withdrawn from people and activities. In some cases they may act aggressive as a gut reaction to try and protect themselves. If an animal was neglected, they may also become attached to you as a caregiver and suffer from extreme separation anxiety.

Overcoming Abuse

As you begin to help rehabilitate your pet from past abuse you first need to understand that it will take time, in some cases a year or longer, as your dog learns to trust and love you and your family as his owner(s). Understand that when you rescue an abused animal, they more than likely will never be comfortable in all social settings and will always need extra TLC.

The most important aspect of helping an abused pet overcome his past is to give lots of love, praise and companionship. Keep your voice and any corrections clear, extremely positive and calm, and do not have high expectations for his comfort and interaction skills. Give the dog time, as much as needed, to become comfortable in his new surroundings.

By showing your dog that you will fulfill his needs he will begin to understand that he can depend on you. Make sure he is receiving nutritious meals, a warm place to sleep and daily exercise outside. To help your dog become accustomed to you, allow some quiet time in a confined space and allow your dog to warm up to you while you sit and read or do something other than stare at him. You can also help coax him by offering delicious treats, he probably will not take them directly from you, but the goal is to eventually have him be able to take a treat from your hand and even spend some cuddle time with you.

If there are situations or specific scenarios, like being put in a crate or having strangers visit, that terrify your dog do not put him in those situations. Rather wait until your dog shows signs of comfort in his surroundings and with the immediate family, and then and only then you can begin introducing him gradually to the situations that result in fear. Implement these situations from a distance and allow your pet to become accustomed and understand that nothing bad is going to happen just because they are near. Gradually increase the amount of exposure until your dog is at ease. Make sure you watch and read your dog’s reactions however and remove him from the situation if he becomes overly stressed. If you are uncomfortable helping your dog overcome his fears on your own, you should enlist the help of a professional.

 

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