What are ways to help a previously mistreated dog warm up and not be so skiddish?
A friend adopted a dog who had obviously been abused. He has had the dog for 2 weeks. The dog is approximately 5 months old. Any suggestions?
This is very important:
The new owners almost always unwittingly encourage the very behavior they don't want.
This is an amazingly difficult concept for most, but it doesn't have to be.
What matters most is that the dog is simply a dog- not an abused dog.
It takes more than love and a good heart. Don't develop a 'loving' attitude of, "Oh, you poor thing," and then coddle the dog. By giving a positive consequence (coddling) to a negative behavior, the owner reinforces the negative behavior. This is what most people do because they feel sorry for the dog.
Now you know what NOT to do. What can you do? Hard to say without knowing more about the dog. Simply put: Reward the behavior you want; ignore what you don't want. This will probably be an oversimplification, but this approach and a good, positive attitude (not a sad one full of pity and remorse over past experiences that are done and gone) will take you a long way.
And make sure the dog gets a clean bill of health. The best trainers in the world can't overcome the effects of a seriously ill dog.
Doltforher makes a lot of good points. A dog only 5 months old is just a little puppy and if the new owners treat her like "ahh, poor baby" all the time they are just going to emphasize any neurotic behavior. Start treating that skittish puppy like a puppy. After she has received a clean bill of health they should take her out for plenty of exercise, at least two long walks a day, get her in to a canine good citizenship program, and go ahead and let her meet other dogs and do things that a normal little puppy does.
I know this might be a simplified answer, Just treat her the way you would a puppy without such circumstances. Treat her like a 5 month old puppy.
Make sure the dog is given its own items..like a bed, toys, bowls..sometimes low playing radio or an old clock that ticks, can soothe and relax,.try not to make loud noises or quick sudden moves when approaching , eventually his confidence in himself and you will overcome any negative reactions...don't rough house with him, you might think it's playing but he will interpert it as ...enjoy him and I'm sure he will soon become part of the family....
Thank you all for your wonderful answers. I will pass them on and hopefully the pup will come around. Thanks again.
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