How to Rehabilitate an Abused Dog

Hi all! I hope you have missed my posts as much as I have missed writing them! A lot has happened in the meantime. I got a haircut, so I don’t have to waste so much time on my long hair anymore. I picked up some Portuguese. I bought a new phone. I even decided to invest in a tankless water heater to free some space in my flat (a great tip from my bestie was to find the right model by going through reviews on tankless water heaters, as apparently there is a wide variety and you need to be extra careful).

Anyway, in this post, I will share a few tips that could help you rehabilitate an abused dog. In the past, we have touched upon the basics of rehabilitating abused animals in general. Let’s have a look now what rehabilitation entails on a more practical level for a dog that has suffered mistreatment.

The most important thing to remember is that you are trying to gain the dog’s trust. To do this, consider the following tips:

  • Be extremely alert: in the first days, it is important to monitor his behavior closely. Is there anything in particular that serves as a trigger? Maybe a specific sound, or even a leash? Try to make note of whatever it is that he finds particularly scary or particularly pleasant.
  • Make sure you don’t appear threatening: when you approach him, you could bend down so that you look smaller, or when you talk to him, speak in a gentle tone. Fast movements should also be avoided because he might find them intimidating.
  • Be gentle: when the dog finally feels he trusts you enough to approach you, you can keep your palm up as he comes close. You can gently pet him on spots that dogs find calming, such as his chest or his chin.
  • Try hand-feeding him: in order to gain his trust, you should consider hand-feeding the dog. If you feed him from your hands, it will facilitate the bonding process. But in case he doesn’t feel like eating from your hand initially, don’t push him. Place the food in the bowl instead and step away. 
  • Consider your own safety: dogs that are very afraid might bite, and it is very important not to get angry if they bite you in the beginning. Instead, consider wearing a pair of welding gloves when you pick up the dog in the first few days until he learns that you are not there to hurt him but to care for him.
  • Be very patient: it can take days, weeks, or months to regain the trust of an abused animal. Dogs are no exception. Even if it takes ‘baby steps’, it will happen. Have faith in your new friend.