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Many dogs suffer from some kind of physical abuse at some point of their lives. When it occurs at a particularly sensitive stage of their development, it can have a long lasting impact even after the dog is removed from the abusive environment.
Types of abuse
- Uncalled for early weaning (separating the pup from its mother)
- Social isolation (complete or partial)
- Physical restraint (small cages or crates, tying)
- Deprivation of learning experiences
- Physical or verbal punishment (hitting, yelling or beating)
- Improper maintenance and care (indifferent or improper hygiene, feeding and grooming)
- Thoughtless or deliberate infliction of chronic pain or stress
How to rehabilitate an abused dog
If you want things to get alright overnight, think again. It often takes an entire year to transform an abused and reclusive dog into a friendly family companion. It is also a bit unrealistic to expect complete success.
Pets that have been severely abused can become accepting of their human families. However, they might not be able to achieve complete social success. It can be quite a rewarding challenge to attempt therapeutic work. Here is how you can get started:
- Make the dog feel loved and needed
- Allow him to get used to his new surroundings at his own pace. Do not ever try and force the issue
- Protect him against what he fears
- Build his confidence by presenting situations in which you have prearranged for him to come out successful (arranging a positive outcome)
- Strive for calm and clear communication with him
- Always make sure that he gets a healthy diet and plenty of physical and mental exercise
- Make a safe place for him where he can get away when he wants to
Some of the more specific measures you can take include the following:
- Speak quietly to your dog and encourage your family members to do the same. Whisper your commands. Remember that there is no advantage to shouting. It does not make your command any clearer to the dog.
- At night, sit in a quiet room with the dog. Close the doors so that he does not dismiss you or try to avoid you. Sit quietly on the bed or the couch and read a book. Make sure that he is hungry before you take out the food treats. Toss him an occasional treat towards him. Slowly he’ll start warming up to you. If he makes any progress, reward him with another treat. Most importantly, do not get impatient and try to hurry it along.
- If he shows any signs of separation anxiety, make sure that he has plenty to do when you leave the house.
- If he is scared of strangers, protect him from their advances even if they mean well.
- A great way to build his confidence is to through clicker training. In this training method, the pet feels empowered when he gets to find a way to make you click and receive a reward. Once they start figuring out how the game works, they will start enjoying the game more than the reward. It is the best form of nonverbal communication.