Tips to gain the trust of an abused dog

Tips To Gain The Trust Of An Abused Dog

Many people like to get their new dog from a rescue home or local dog society. Sometimes (but certainly not always) these dogs have come from a very unfortunate background and have been abused; training such a dog presents challenges that are not present when training a puppy. Abused dogs can be terrified or show aggression to some of the normal things we do when dog training, this is not being a bad dog, it is just the dog showing you it has fears and anxiety. You can overcome these fears and anxiety and teach an abused dog to trust with just a few simple changes in training approach and of course a lot of patience. Actual obedience training may have to wait until you have gained the trust of the once abused dog.

*Do Not Threaten* When speaking to this dog keep your voice low and cheerful, gentle voice levels will encourage him to trust you and realize he is not being scolded or told off. Do not approach this dog, instead bend or kneel down to be at his level and gently encourage him to you, let him make the approach guided by your soft words and positive tone. If he makes even a slight effort to come, praise him immediately or reward him, do not wait for him to completely obey before rewarding or praising him. Remember his experience with humans has not been all good and you should encourage him as much as possible and do not get frustrated by lack of progress.

*Encourage Trust in Contact* Once your dog trusts enough to let you touch him then please encourage this by petting him in a trusting and encouraging way. Keep your palm up and hand below his eye level so he can see the approach and gently rub him under the chin or chest, these actions have been shown to calm nervous dogs and he will not feel trapped by your actions. Always praise whilst stroking and reward if appropriate when he comes to you for petting. If he moves away, let him, do not try to hold him, as he gets used to it he will naturally stay longer.

*Keep Movements, smooth, Gentle and Flowing* When interacting with your dog keep your movements gentle and slow, sharp and quick movements may scare him and cause him to cower or act aggressively. This will undo any good work achieved.

*Do Not Be Frustrated* Try not to become frustrated with your dogs lack of progress, frustration will show in your voice and body language and your dog will pick up on it and retreat to his former untrusting self. If you feel yourself becoming frustrated with him then stop interacting with him and relax, you can try again when your own pressures have eased. Remember he is not deliberately defying you; he is merely struggling to overcome previously learned behavior and his own fears and demons.

*Be Understanding* When a dog is nervous or scared, he will often wet the floor involuntarily. If this should happen, it is important not to allow your frustration to show. It is not a deliberate attempt at disobeying and will likely disappear as he gains trust in you.

*Patience* Be patient, keep any contact and training time to short periods, actual touch time should be dictated by your dog and will likely become longer as his trust grows. Try not inviting him, often just sitting and waiting his approach can work wonders as he decides to see what you are all about and do not be mean with the rewards, remember this fellow or lady has had only punishment, it is up to you to show them there is another way.

An abused dog need not remain that way and with gentle loving care and training he will become as loving and loyal as any other dog. His behavior was learnt in response to abuse and will be forgotten as he learns new behavior in response to your positive training. A low voice, crouching position and a positive, loving attitude will win him over.

Article type: xarchive