Neglected and abused by their original parents, behavioral issues among shelter dogs are not uncommon. These emotional wounds can be treated with love, care, and proper training. Learn what to do and what to avoid when parenting an abused dog.
Centuries of coexisting have genetically tuned dogs to trust humans. However, when that trust is breached, pet dogs are often left emotionally broken, confused, and fearful. Abused, neglected, and eventually abandoned, these dogs need more than just love and care. Pet parents who adopt abused dogs often report back saying that their newly-adopted dogs are showing signs of behavioral issues.
Some dogs spend hours hiding in the corner of a secluded room while avoiding contact with other humans and pets. There are also dogs that consistently avoid being petted by their new human parents.
Common Signs of Abuse
Physical scars are often easy to treat. However, many dogs of abuse develop long-term emotional problems. These behavioral issues usually take months of emotional nursing to rectify. Following are a few common behavioral issues that are often noticed in abused dogs.
- Extreme Separation Anxiety
- General Distrust Towards Other Dogs and Humans
- Signs of Extreme Submissiveness (tucked-tail stance, ears back, wide-eyed glance)
- Unprompted Aggression
6 Things to Do to Heal the Emotional Scars of an Abused Dog
Develop a Routine: One of the best ways to get your newly-adopted dog to trust you is by creating a routine. Start by giving it food at exact timings. Schedule a time for its daily grooming session. Similarly, make to point to get the leash out at the same exact time every day to take your dog out for a walk. A busy and predictable schedule will help your dog feel safe in its environment.
Positive Reinforcement Training: Instead of scolding your dog for the mistakes it makes, it’s always best to reward the good deeds. This is especially true when dealing with an emotionally abused dog. Positive reinforcement training allows you to engage with your dog in a relaxed setting while training it to understand basic commands.
Remain Patient and Calm: Dogs with severe emotional scars often take months even years to recover properly. There is no one-pill or overnight solution. Your only option is to remain calm and patient till the dog starts to open up to you.
Ask the Vet to Learn About Anti-Anxiety Pet Meds: Pet anxiety is treatable by medicine. There are several pet anxiety medications available for dogs. Instead of trying to medicate your dog yourself, it’s best to speak to a veterinarian to understand if these pet meds are a right fit for your dog.
Give Your Dog Attention: It’s your job as a responsible pet owner to give your dog attention and love every single day. However, it’s important not to go overboard. Dogs usually prefer some degree of freedom and personal space. Make sure you schedule one-on-one play time and relaxing grooming sessions.
Create a Safe Space for the Dog:As soon as you bring home an abused dog, it’s important to create dedicated doggie space. A human home is full of complex objects and its vast complexity often makes newly-adopted dogs feel overwhelmed. Create a safe corner for the dog with a comfortable bed and a few toys. Designate an area from where it can always maintain visual contact with you and thus feel protected by your presence. Also, keep the dog away from noisy spaces especially if it displays fearful behavioral traits. For example, creating a space in the living room near the TV set can disrupt your dog’s sleep and leave it jumpy and scared.