Gaining the Trust of a Formerly Abused Dog
By Jane Williams
Mon, Nov 28, 2022 at 11:20AM

Gaining the Trust of a Formerly Abused Dog

It is very difficult for animal lovers to read that every 60 seconds, one animal suffers abuse. If you have recently adopted a dog with a history of abuse, know that there is so much you can do to make your pup more confident, happier, and more trusting. It takes patience, time, and (in some cases) a little professional help, but you and your new four-pawed friend can achieve great things in less time than you may think.

Observation is Key

When you take your pup home, observe them so you can note down pertinent behaviors. Your dog may be fearful of specific objects (such as brooms or face masks) or react nervously to quick movements. They may prefer to be alone, try to bite you if you try to pet them, and have aggressive reactions to normal actions. This is important as you need to work out if your dog has any phobias that may benefit from the help of a behavioral modification specialist. Behavior modification can desensitize your pet to their source of fear. For instance, if they are afraid of a broom, the professional may place one far away then bring it increasingly closer to your dog, until the phobia dissipates. 

Creating a Pleasant Environment for Your Dog

Ensure your home is tidy, quiet, and comfortable for your dog. They should have a little space they call their own; one that is their refuge. Start creating a bond with them through food. They should be fed at the same time and always have access to a fresh, clean water bowl. As your dog begins to trust you, try feeding them snacks from your hand, so they associate the scent of your skin with a reward.

Letting Your Pooch Take the Lead with Affection

When it comes to affection and getting close to you, your dog should definitely be the master. Dogs are naturally curious and as yours starts seeing you as a trusting, loving figure, they will probably approach you. Allow them to smell your hand or your leg, waiting a while before you pet them. If your dog presses their body into you, it’s a good sign they are ready to be caressed. 

Socializing Your Dog

Once your dog is comfortable with you, you can get them comfortable with the world at large by going for walks, visiting the dog park, and having puppy play dates. Some dogs who are fearful of humans (owing to past experiences of abuse) interact beautifully with other dogs that irradiate a calm energy. If your dog needs help with basic dog etiquette, behavioral classes are a great way to meet other dogs and owners while also teaching your dog to come when they are called, shift their attention when prompted, and walk on the lead.

If you have just adopted a dog that has been abused, the love and care you provide will do plenty to heal them and make them feel whole and happy. Take it easy, allowing your dog to seek you out. Invest time and resources in behavioral therapy if necessary, and consider signing up for dog training classes.

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