If you have an extremely fearful or reactive dog, especially one who was adopted, you may often wish you could ask, “What happened to you before you came into my life?” Unfortunately, our dogs can’t tell us what happened to them, so we may never know for sure why they act the way they do.
The good news is that it is possible to help your dog recover to some degree from past trauma. Your dog will probably always be a little more nervous than other dogs, but with time and patience, you can give them a much better quality of life. Here are 4 tips for helping your dog recover.
#1 – Create a sense of safety
This is the most important thing you can do to help your dog recover. Dogs that have been traumatized are constantly on the alert and looking for danger, and if you can’t make them feel safe, then nothing else will help. This should include a safe place your dog can go to and not be bothered when they are feeling overwhelmed. Pushing them too far too fast or punishing them in any way can set back recovery.
#2 – Give your dog a sense of control
The most devastating part about many types of abuse is the utter lack of control that victims have. Giving your dog some sense of control by teaching them that desirable actions give them good things helps them decide to do the right thing. Trying to force a dog to do something takes away their control of a situation, so force of any kind should be avoided.
#3 – Emotional support
Dogs who have been traumatized may be more difficult to love, but they are the dogs who need love the most. As much as your dog tries to push you away, it’s important to show them that you love them even through their fear.
#4 – Time and patience
Nothing good happens overnight, and that includes rehabilitating a traumatized dog. The more positive interactions you have with your dog over time, they will eventually learn that you can be trusted and that not everything in the world is terrifying. Unfortunately, there is no way to speed up this process. Time and patience are crucial.
(H/T: The Other End Of The Leash)