Dealing with an abused dog


The first thing you want is to gain their trust.

1. Let them approach you

2. Create a safe space preferably in a quiet part of the home.

3. Learn your dogs body language

4. Never force your desired results on the dog. Everything must be on their time not ours.*

5. Never hit or get angry with the dog because it is not performing the way you want.

6. Find out what triggers the dogs anxiety, strange behavior like growling, showing teeth, ect.**

7. Always stay calm and use a quiet voice.

8. Stay patient no matter how long it may take. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

9. Do not make sudden moves especially if you try to pet the dog while sleeping.***

10. Let them heal in their time, not yours.

11. Do not make direct eye contact. They see this as an act of aggression. It will take time for them to get over it and know you will not hurt them.

12. Approach the dog slowly and at its side. Approaching from the front may instill fear from prior abuse. Same if dog approaches you let them come up to your side until they are comfortable around you.

13. Use the back of your hand so they can sniff without fear.

14. Do not go for the head since this is the most abused place on the dog. You can massage the shoulders and as the dog seems to trust you then you can work slowing massaging the neck and work up to the ears and face.

15. Reward your dog for good behavior. First put treat on floor until you see how it reacts. If is not aggressive then you can feed in your open palm.


*Every dog will be different but they are like foster children. When they are bounced around from one place to another they have problems bonding and loving. It will take time, love and lots of patience but it can be done.

** Your touch may be out of love but his previous touches may have been out of anger.

*** Some may be aggressive towards a male if the abuser was male or female if the abuser was female.


Signs of abuse:


1. Physical signs

1. Scars, stab wounds, cauliflower ears, cuttings. (Some scars heal and cannot be seen by the eye.)

2. Underweight

3. Limping from beatings, possibly from broken bones

4. Are they scarfing their food, growl when you or another dog gets near their food?

5. Overly submissive. These usually have their tails tucked between their legs when approached. They may also display anxiety attacks when in fear.

6. Aggressive behavior. Dogs that are abused may be aggressive out of fear of more abuse. They do not know at first that you are there to love them. It takes time and every animal is different.

7. Docking of tails and declawing of cats.


2. Neglect signs

1. Neglect such as matted fur, overgrown nails.

2. Flea ridden.

3. Dogs that were kept in cages and outgrew them. This is serious because it can deform their bones.


3. Emotional signs (Not all abuse is physical)

1. Food aggression. Frantic eating, growling/biting when approached by you or another dog. Usually these dogs had to fight for food or was given food irregularly. They do not know when their next meal will come from.

2. Separation anxiety. This is especially common in re-homed dogs or dogs that have been bounced around, even dogs that have spent time in shelters where the officers do not keep a schedule. They may become destructive, howl or bark, pacing or shaking, urinating or defecating inappropriately.

3. Antisocial behavior. This can come from many causes such as not being taught social skills at an early age. Some dogs are taught to be aggressive. Believe me some even feed gunshot to their dogs thinking it makes them a better guard dog when all it is doing is perforating their insides which means the aggression is coming from pain.

4. Excessive fear or timidity. Just like people some are more aggressive and some more timid. This is normal. It becomes abnormal when they tuck their tail between their legs, cowering in fear,

5. Unexplained behavior like hostility, laying in a corner, or urinating. Dogs rely on predictability and routine. When that is broken they may display unwelcome behavior.


Displaying fireworks and guns are also emotional abuse. Dogs hate loud noises because their ears are so more superior than ours. If it is loud to us it is far louder to them plus they do not understand. All they hear is the loud noise and many dogs have run away from their home never to be seen again because the people did not care enough to put the dog in a far corner of the house and do what it takes to keep them safe.



Usually one will never know the whole truth of amount of abuse an animal has experienced. Always assume the worst. It will take a lot of time, love and patience on your part. Make sure you are up to it before you begin.


1. Give your dog a place where they can feel safe.

2. Never get angry and always use a soft voice.

3. Move slowly, your dog needs to feel safe at all times.

4. Reinforce good behavior with treats.

5. Give them one of your t-shirts with your scent on it. This will help them stay calm. I noticed my fur baby that was abused likes to sleep on my side of the bed when I am not with her. My scent is there though.

6. If you need help do not hesitate to ask your veterinarian.

7. Beware of “trainers”, screen them to validate their work and if it is right for your dog. If they do not allow you to participate in the training then I would not use them. I want to know what is going on with my fur baby!

8. Never leave any dog, abused or not around babies or small children without supervision. Even animals can show jealousy.