How to Build Trust with an Abused Dog
Animals are abused by humans every day and this abuse can leave lifelong physical and emotional scars on the animals that survive it.Animals that have been abused need help to get out of those situations but they also need new homes to go to once they are rescued.If you are looking to adopt a pet and you have a lot of time to give it, consider adopting one that has survived abuse. You will need a lot of patience and to give a lot of care, but building up trust with an abused dog can be a life-changing experience for you and the animal.
Fulfilling the Dog's Basic Needs
Make sure your dog has identification on it.Give your dog a collar with a name tag and your number on it. Make sure it fits comfortably on your dog's neck. An abused dog may get spooked or escape from you, and you want to make sure that if it does get away from you it can be identified.
Feed the dog.Give it its favorite food at regular times during the day. It is recommended that a dog be fed twice a day.
- You should also give your dog open access to water at all times.
- Feeding, walks, play, and grooming should all happen at predictable times each day because having a routine will build a sense of security for your dog.
Give the dog a space of its own.This is usually a crate or a bed that the dog feels comfortable on. There are a wide variety of dog pillows and baskets in pet shops that you can buy for it.
- The dog's space should serve as a place where it can take a break. If your dog is feeling overwhelmed or fearful, make sure to allow the dog to return to its safe space and leave it alone.
- You can also give the dog some toys to play with on its own. Most dogs won't like every toy you give them, but instead will choose a favorite and ignore others completely.
Give the dog a name and teach it to respond to it.Always call your dog by its name and try not to change it. Changing names will just confuse the dog.
- Having a name that your dog will respond to will keep help you to bond with the dog. Use a happy and upbeat tone of voice when you call the dog by name. This will help to build good will between you and the dog.
Buy treats you can use to train the dog.Try lots of different treats until you find its favorite. Give it snacks when it's good, follows a command, or does a trick.
Showing the Dog Love
Pet the dog delicately.Many dog who have been abused are hand shy, meaning that they are fearful when approached by hands.Pet your dog with your palm up under his or her head, not over the head or on the dog's rear end. It isn't an offensive motion if you use the palm up.
- You want to make sure that the dog sees you coming before you pet it. While you might get closer to a fearful dog by sneaking up on it, you will not build trust that way and you might get bitten due to fear.
Exercise and play with the dog.You need to build up trust with an abused dog, so once again you need to be delicate with your play at first. After about a month, your dog should start to trust you. Play football, catch, races, and anything else your dog enjoys doing.
- The more walks you give it, the more trust you get.
Give the dog plenty of attention but don't smother it.You need to walk the line between giving the dog attention and giving the dog freedom. Keep a bit of time everyday to play with your dog. However, your attention can be stressful to a dog that is distrustful of you. Give it a break from your attention if it becomes too much for the dog.
Socialize the dog cautiously.Your dog needs to build trust with other people and dogs, in addition to you. This can be difficult to achieve if the dog has been severely abused. Begin slowly, by letting the dog see other dogs or people at a distance. Then very gradually let your dog get closer. You will probably want to get a volunteer to be the stranger you introduce your dog to, as you don't want to scare a stranger with a possibly aggressive dog.
- Once you and your dogs are nearly soul mates you might want to take getting another dog into consideration. If you cannot handle it, simply take the dog out for more walks so it can meet other dogs.
- Dogs that have not been properly socialized, but have not been abused, can appear as if they have been abused.Socialize any dog that has socialization issues, as it can even help dogs that have not been abused.
Training the Dog
Use rewards instead of punishment.You want to reinforce positive behavior instead of punishment because most dogs understand the connection between actions and rewards more clearly than what they are being punished for.
- Never hit a dog. If you don't like something the dog is doing a simple and calm "no" orUh-uhwill usually suffice.
Use counter conditioning.Counter conditioning will be helpful if your dog has specific fears. It works by conditioning the dog to get closer and closer to things it fears by luring it close with something it loves.
- For example, if your dog is afraid of bicycles, you place your dogs favorite toy or a treat close to a bicycle. After the dog takes the bait, you gradually (over days or weeks) move the treat or toy closer to the feared item.
Train your dog in basic commands.This may go slowly if you have just adopted an abused dog. Just remember that if you build enough trust between you and the dog, it will eventually want to follow your command.
- Begin with "sit" and "come" commands. These will set the foundation for further training, such as "heel," "lay," and a wide variety of others.
Be patient.An abused dog has gone through a lot of trauma and deserves some time and patience from you. It's fine to have some behavior expectations but don't be unrealistic. The dog doesn't have any reason to trust you, as they may have had strictly bad relationships with humans. Give your pup some time and show it everyday that your are trustworthy.
QuestionHow can I help my dog to not flinch every time I move?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCall the dog before you move, so it's attention is on you first. Make slow gradual movements, and over time this should help.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I deal with an abused dog that has snapped at me twice?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBe calm, don't freak out or shout. This is a game of trust and love, so show the dog that no matter what he does you won't give in and won't hurt him. Keep a respectable distance and just talk to him, through a gate if you're worried for your safety. Kindness is the only way you can combat fear.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do if my abused dog refuses to poop outside?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMaybe you should try spending more time with your dog outside so they get used to being out there when they need to go to the bathroom. You could also try taking your dog to a dog park to be around other dogs; maybe seeing them use the bathroom outside will help your dog learn to do it too.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if my dog is not responsive to being treated after doing something good?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSome dogs are more responsive to affection/petting or verbal praise than treats. Try a combination to see which works best with your dog.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I potty train my puppy if she's been abused so severely that she refuses to go outside?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPee pads can be bought at most stores, and using a pee pad is a better option than forcing the dog to go outside. Put the pad in a safe location and leave it there until the dog uses it. After the dog uses the pad, a treat and soft praises will help enforce the behavior. Give this about two weeks, then move the pad a bit closer to the door where you will take them outside. Eventually you will be able to set the pad just outside of the door and hopefully your dog will feel more comfortable going outside.Thanks!
QuestionThere is a dog at my job that was left and I have been feeding him for months. He will take a bone from my hand but not let me touch him. How can I get him to trust me enough to pet?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSlowly and gradually extend the back of your hand, without food in it, and let him sniff it or lick it Let him touch you first. Speak to him in soothing tones and make him feel comfortable with you.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I make my new, fearful dog feel comfortable walking with me in the garden?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBe sure to speak softly with your dog, and don't attempt to drag them outside. If they start following you around outside, give them a treat. Be patient.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I stop a formerly abused male terrier from going after my husband and biting him every time he enters a room? The terrier was abused by a man.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMake sure your husband has ample opportunities to bond with the dog. Have him be the one who feeds the dog and gives him treats, takes him on walks, visits to the dog park, etc. Once your dog learns to associate good times with your husband, he won't be afraid of him anymore.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I get my abused dog to play with the toys that I've bought him and get emotionally attached to them?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on the toys. Most dogs prefer some kinds of toys over others. Try to experiment with all kinds of toys and see which ones he likes best. Take Into consideration that some dogs like human toys like stuffed animals over dog toys. So just keep experimenting.Thanks!
QuestionI will be house sitting for an abused dog who runs away when he goes in the yard. How do I get him back in the house?Wild HeartCommunity AnswerTry taking him out on a leash if you can get one onto him. If not, just go out and try to watch him. Talk to the owners and try to figure out where exactly he's getting out and how they usually get him back in if he escapes.Thanks!
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- It is not know how many dogs are abused every year. However, the ASPCA is working on building a database to track animal abuse, which will give us a better picture in the near future.
- Don't give the dog too much freedom at first because it might run away if it gets spooked or is fearful of you.
- Don't let the dog get away with everything. Make sure it follows your rules. You may want the dog to like you but it will like you more in the long run if you set some boundaries. While you can't expect the dog to behave perfectly right off the bat, you can expect it to not tear up your house or injure anyone.
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