Unfortunately, animal abuse is still extremely prevalent nowadays. Mice and rabbits suffer from different laboratory tests, lions and bears are abused in circuses, dolphins are living in absolutely unnatural and unhealthy conditions in aqua parks. But did you know that it is our most loyal friends, the dogs, who suffer from animal abuse the most? According to different recent studies, dogs became victims in more than 60% of all reported animal abuse cases, where the most common types where neglect and physical abuse. Dogs need our help, and if you want to know how to heal an abused dog, you came to the right place.
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Signs of abuse in dogs
First off, you have to know the specific signs that indicate cruelty to animals. The most common signs of abused dog are behavioral problems:
- Fear of other dogs and people. This sign occurs mainly due to physical abuse. The abused dog learns to associate humans with pain and mistreatment. As for the fear of other dogs, it is hard to say why it develops. Experts assume that such fear may occur when the dog is mistreated in the presence of other dogs.
- High level of aggression. The presence of this symptom indicates that the dog has been experiencing everyday stress, especially early in life. Experts believe that fear also plays a crucial part in aggressive behavior.
- Separation disorder. This unusual behavior manifests itself in the form of increased separation anxiety. It means that the abused dog (usually psychologically abused) tends to seek attention or attachment to the new owners. Put simply, dogs with separation disorders fear of being abandoned once again. It is relatively easy to bond with such abused dog.
- Extreme nervousness. Due to constant maltreatment, the dog’s nervous system can raise the alarm even during simple activities, like walking down the stairs or going outside. Such dogs tend to bark louder and more frequently. The nervous system that is being constantly on guard often leads to hyperactivity in dogs.
- Repetitive weird behavior. Mistreated dogs can often show ritualistic and repetitive abnormal behavior, like obsessively digging holes, spinning in circles (when stressed), hoarding shoes, etc.
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How to help abused dogs
There are many tips on how to help a mistreated dog recover from the horrors of the past. Many experts would recommend using the help of an abused dog rehabilitation center. However, if you want to do it on your own, here are the essential tips you should know:
- Abused dog rehabilitation should begin with training the mistreated dog to trust you. Creating a strong bond is key in any dog’s fast recovery from maltreatment. Be patient, it may take a while.
- Fulfill the dog’s basic needs: an identification collar, open access to water, the dog’s favorite food (twice a day), provide them with their own space, teach your dog their name (don’t change it, as it is confusing for your dog), treat your dog with different snacks when it follows your command or does something good.
- Show your dog love. Never come to pet your dog from behind. Abused dogs might get scared or even react aggressively to it. Never hit your dog nor raise your voice. Don’t force them to do anything they don’t want to do.
- Discipline your dog wisely. Not many people know how to discipline an abused dog. Moreover, often times, the owner’s inappropriate methods can traumatize their pet. There are two simple rules: punish the dog ONLY when caught in the act of wrongdoing and never be violent about your punishment. Positive reinforcement works miracles, whereas hitting and shouting can deal even greater harm.
- Socializing is often a key to successful recovery. Any abused dog needs to have a positive social experience to build trust with other living creatures. We want to share Angel’s story as an example of the impact of socializing.
Angel, a greyhound mix, was so traumatized, that she would sit in the corner, facing the wall all day long, and eat only when no one is around. No one knew what to do with this poor creature. However, it was simply a friend that she needed to come back to normal life. Angel’s new family brought in another dog from the same animal shelter, and it didn’t take long to notice significant changes in Angel’s personality! In as much as half a year, Angel transformed from the horribly abused creature into a happy and confident dog.
We believe that anyone can help their dog the way Angel’s family did. With love, compassion, and understanding, you can cure and train your companion. Dogs are humans’ best friends for a good reason: you will never see such a loyal and loving companion. Hopefully, you now know how to help abused dogs.
P.S. You don’t necessarily have to help a mistreated dog on your own. Report any case of cruelty to animals to your local agency or call 9-1-1 if you believe that the animal is in imminent danger.