We look at how to help an abused dog recover their trust and joy. Animal abuse is a cruel and horrific human behavior that is, unfortunately, too common. Animals who have been abused often have long-lasting scars that could follow them through the rest of their lives. With a little bit of time and attention, these dogs can remember how to trust humans. 

Welcoming a formerly-abused dog into your home is a wonderful way to show them what it feels to be loved. It is only the first step on their road to recovery, however. We are experienced in working abused dogs in our training work with local dog rescues like Detroit Dog Rescue. If you plan to work with an abused dog, be sure to do the following:

How to Help an Abused Dog Recover: Be Patient

The most important thing to remember when working with a dog who faced abuse is to remain patient. Helping them overcome the fear and distrust they have in humans can be a long process with a lot of missteps along the way. Many owners who do not have the necessary experience or the time needed to dedicate to the process might feel overwhelmed. If you can remember to stay calm, be patient, and take advantage of helpful resources, you can be successful. 

Note that we sometimes see new pet rescue parents who believe dogs their dogs must have been abused. In some cases, the dog was neglected and/or simply didn’t learn early socialization, though not abused. These dogs can have their own trust and behavior issues to overcome. 

Create a Safe Space for Them

Feeling safe is incredibly important to a dog who has been abused. Before you even bring the dog into your house, you should set up a safe space just for them. This space should be away from major traffic areas in the house so the dog can retreat there when in need of alone time. Find a comfortable bed, some toys, and provide easy access to food and water bowls. If your dog is especially anxious, a crate might make them feel safe. Covering it with a blanket gives the dog a secure area away from others.

Focus on Your Tone and Actions

Use caution every time you speak to or interact with your dog. Even the tiniest misstep can negatively affect any progress you’ve made. Speak to the animal in calm, quiet tones. Speaking in a soft, low voice will not put the dog on edge and will help you create trust. Don’t move quickly around the animal, as the dog could interpret this as aggression. 

Create a Daily Routine

Structure and routine can help your dog feel calm. Set regular feeding and walking times. When possible, take the dog for a longer walk. Just like for humans, exercise can release endorphins in dogs. This allows the animal to feel happiness. 

Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is extremely important for helping an abused dog recover. Treats and praise can make the dog feel good. The more the dog trusts you, the more he or she will want to please you with good behavior. Do not force the dog to do anything they don’t want to do, though. Take your time and let the dog work at his or her own timetable. 

How to help an abused dog recover? Bottomline, help them consistently feel safe and loved. 

The caring and compassionate team at Union Lake Pet Services is here to help you any way we can. From positive reinforcement training to behavior modification, we successfully work with animals every day. To learn more about our services and how they can help, please call (248) 363-6262.