How to help a dog which has been abused

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How to help a dog which has been abused

This is a discussion on How to help a dog which has been abused within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hi everyone! So two days ago my family and I adopted Buddy (an english springer spaniel) from an animal shelter. Buddy is 2 years old ...

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Old 03-03-2012, 07:22 AM
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How to help a dog which has been abused

Hi everyone! So two days ago my family and I adopted Buddy (an english springer spaniel) from an animal shelter. Buddy is 2 years old and was very badly neglected and abused in his old home. He is terrified of every movement and the poor thing always has his tail between his legs - which I believe means he is either scared or sad.

I've tried laying on the floor with him and using little toys to play with him - but poor Buddy doesn't even know that toys are for fun because he had little or no interaction in his old home.

I was wondering if anyone has any tips on how to help a dog like Buddy and slowly build his confidence and trust of people again?

Many Thanks.
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Old 03-03-2012, 07:45 AM
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Less is more. For a dog who is so scared, the best thing you can do for him is to actually ignore him! I know that sounds terribly impolite from a human perspective, but in dog language, this takes the pressure off of him for a while until he can get comfortable in your home.

So don't call to him, don't try to pet him, don't look into his eyes.

Instead, just let him get used to the house and his new environment. He is likely to be exhausted, so make sure he has a very comfy, quiet place to sleep. If he has chosen a location in the house, such as under a table or in a corner, put his bed there.

Things you can do to help him realize you are kind and gentle...
- carry kibble or treats in your pocket and simply drop them behind you as you walk around the house.
- If he will eat from your hand, hand feeding is a great way to bond, but if that seems too scary for him right now, just feed him in his bowl. As he finishes his food, walk by and drop a few more kibbles in his bowl.
- keep the stimulation levels around the house low. That means no rowdy kids, TV volume not too loud, adults should not holler from room to room, and so forth.
- Be conscious of what you are doing with your body. Walk gently around him. Don't stoop over him or reach for his collar abruptly.
- Use LOTS of DELICIOUS treats when you need to work with him. For example if you need to put his leash on, give him some yummy cooked chicken bits as you do this. He will be less traumatized this way, and will eventually learn that interactions with you are wonderful!

Here's a great book, just for your situation.
Amazon.com: Love Has No Age Limit-Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home (9781891767142): Patricia B. McConnell Ph.D., Karen B. London Ph.D.: Books Amazon.com: Love Has No Age Limit-Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home (9781891767142): Patricia B. McConnell Ph.D., Karen B. London Ph.D.: Books


Keep in mind it may take 6 months for this dog to make a full recovery from his former life, so time is the great healer, in addition to your nurturing.

Last edited by Tess; 03-03-2012 at 07:49 AM.
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Old 03-03-2012, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Tess View Post
Less is more. For a dog who is so scared, the best thing you can do for him is to actually ignore him! I know that sounds terribly impolite from a human perspective, but in dog language, this takes the pressure off of him for a while until he can get comfortable in your home.

So don't call to him, don't try to pet him, don't look into his eyes.

Instead, just let him get used to the house and his new environment.

Things you can do to help him realize you are kind and gentle...
- carry kibble or treats in your pocket and simply drop them behind you as you walk around the house.
- If he will eat from your hand, hand feeding is a great way to bond, but if that seems too scary for him right now, just feed him in his bowl. As he finishes his food, walk by and drop a few more kibbles in his bowl

Here's a great book, just for your situation.
Amazon.com: Love Has No Age Limit-Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home (9781891767142): Patricia B. McConnell Ph.D., Karen B. London Ph.D.: Books


Keep in mind it may take 6 months for this dog to make a full recovery from his former life, so time is the great healer, in addition to your nurturing.
thanks for that advice!
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Old 03-03-2012, 01:37 PM
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I totally agree with the post above! We rescued a 4 month old houla and her behaviors including cowering in the fartherest corner, gaze avoidance, skitting around the house, refusal to come into the house (fenced backyard), gulping food, no petting (especially on the head). We talked to her all day long, even sang to her at times without looking at her, and fed her by hand whenever we could. It took 3 months for her to get up on the couch and put her head in my lap, and she would also lean on me. We leashed her at the dog park, woke her up when she had nightmares, and brought her into the be (foot of bed) every night. It might take a long time but she is coming around and feeling safer...we made sure she is micro chipped too, as she bolted out of the house one day. Hang in there!
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Old 03-03-2012, 04:55 PM
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I totally agree with the post above! We rescued a 4 month old houla and her behaviors including cowering in the fartherest corner, gaze avoidance, skitting around the house, refusal to come into the house (fenced backyard), gulping food, no petting (especially on the head). We talked to her all day long, even sang to her at times without looking at her, and fed her by hand whenever we could. It took 3 months for her to get up on the couch and put her head in my lap, and she would also lean on me. We leashed her at the dog park, woke her up when she had nightmares, and brought her into the be (foot of bed) every night. It might take a long time but she is coming around and feeling safer...we made sure she is micro chipped too, as she bolted out of the house one day. Hang in there!
this sounds a lot like buddy - he looks away from our direction and when you walk anywhere towards him he jumps away - glad to hear that after time houla overcame her nervousness/ fear! have took your advice onboard, many thanks
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Old 03-03-2012, 06:47 PM
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Yep, Addison wouldn't look at us in the eye ever, and kept her tail tucked whenever we were around. It takes a long time for the trust to be built, but she now knows how to play, bark, paw at me to go out. Again, she''s still skittish and nervous but we hope by taking her out in the car, uptown with people, walks, etc. will calm her down and build her confidence. The dog park was just wonderful, but we had to keep our eyes open for rough playing dogs as it would set her back.
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Old 03-03-2012, 06:54 PM
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This thread might be of great help to you.

As well as this book.
Amazon.com: On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals (9781929242368): Turid Rugaas: Books Amazon.com: On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals (9781929242368): Turid Rugaas: Books
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Old 03-03-2012, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by SingMeALullaby View Post
I was wondering if anyone has any tips on how to help a dog like Buddy and slowly build his confidence and trust of people again?

Many Thanks.
Look at the kikopup channel
Clicker training is great for abused dogs because it uses the clicker to mark the behavior you want. It is great for building confidence. Start simple like click for the dog just looking at you, click and treat over and over. Work slowly on the simplest things and just one at a time until to dog understands that the click always means something good. Get the tastiest treats you can find or just cook real chicken and cut into small bites. You do not need to hand the dog treats in the beginning just toss to him until he trusts you enough to take them from your hand. Try to stay very relaxed and stay back and give him plenty of space. You dont ever want him to feel trapped. This trainer is very good at what she does. Good luck and although you have plenty of work ahead of you it will be worth it. I have rescued a couple like this and they turned into the most well adjusted dogs with lots of love and patients.
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Old 03-03-2012, 08:12 PM
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Yes! Once the pup starts to relax a bit, clicker training is the thing to do! Thanks for posting that link to Kikopups, Dawnben. She is a master at this and we all love her videos.
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Old 03-04-2012, 04:35 AM
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Thankyou everyone for your great advice will update you with buddys progress!
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