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How do we build trust with a previously abused dog?
One week ago my husband and I adopted a 4 yr old female Boxer (previously a breeder dog in a puppy mill). She is a sweet, frightened girl. She has grown close to me but is very scared of hubby. She won't eat when he is home, shakes when he is around, hides, etc. She will allow him to sit next to her on the couch but that's it.
Also, she fears coming in from the back yard. I often carry her back in the house. I worry that she feels forced and that is hindering her ability to grow confident, comfortable, etc. I have the patience, maybe need more knowledge.
The best dog I ever had was abused by a man and he always barked at a pair of boots if they were sitting around or on a person. Dachshunds are very loyal and after he befriended me, he always tried to protect me of anything and everything In the shelter, he wouldn't eat, was the smallest dog, shook the entire time. But on the car ride home, I held him, pet him, and just talked. He was mine ever since.
I suggest sitting at home and watching a movie with your husband. But make sure the dog is in the room and the door is locked so she can't get out. You could try some treats or just sit in there with the dog until your husband walks in, then hold the dog and make sure she stays there with your husband a few feet away. But also definately try for your husband to ALWAYS feed the dog. Animals have a strange bond with who feeds them.
It takes time... think of your dog as a human child and ask yourself what you would do... My dog, Kramer, was abandoned several times, abused and neglected... He is now the most LOVING and AFFECTIONATE dog... The trick is to treat them like they were any of your other pets and make sure you spoil them
It might take a while.. it all depends on how old the dog is and how long the abuse took place. Kramer was abused for only a year and he is young, so it was a little easier... but if the dog is 5+ and abused all his life then he may never recover BUT he will be better than when you first got him.. time, patience, and a lot of love Good luck and thank you for saving an animal!
A rescue centre I know which takes in a lot of exbreediing dogs recommends that they are rehomed with another dog who can show them the way. Even though you haven't got another dog, perhaps you could get a friend to bring their dog over regularly and see if your dog will start to follow its lead.
Do not rush the dog, the dog will become comfortable on it's own time as it realizes that you are not there to harm it. If it prefers a room, do not bombard that room, allow that room to be the dog's sanctuary, per say. As I'm sure you've noticed, the dog will probably be very shy, not wanting to be pet, or touched, or certain items will scare it, or certain genders. The dog will need to come to you on it's own terms. Talk to it, let it know that you're not there to harm it, kneel down so that you do not tower over the dog - showing the dog that you're at his level will make it more likely to approach you. Don't raise your hand fast, don't talk loudly near the dog, do everything slowly and quietly. Basically, just take your time with the dog and it will slowly grow to realize that you are there to protect it, not harm it. It's the worst thing watching an animal cower or be fearful due to past owners, but it is oh so worth the time and patience when the dog finally realizes that you're there to love them, not hurt them. I wish you luck!
Patience. This may take even up to a few years to resolve.
There is no way possible to give you the help you need in just 2,500 characters. I strongly suggest you start by reading the book, "Help for Your Shy Dog" by Deborah Wood. This is a super easy read and filled with great information that can help you deal with your formerly abused pup.
I have a hub on socializing your fearful or abused dog. It will have some information, but it will be way short of what you'll need to fully tackle this issue.
Find an all positive trainer or dog behaviorist to help give you the tools you'll need to help your pup begin to overcome her previous trauma. It's VERY, VERY, VERY important that the trainer/behaviorist be all positive. This dog does not need any punishment in her training, or it will only compound her issues.
Good luck. She's obviously found a caring, loving owner who is willing to help her overcome.
My dog was abused and abandoned, so she took a few months before showing affection at all. We gave her a variety of different toys, for starters. Once we discovered the ones she liked, we bought here about 6 or 7 she could keep throughout the house. We wouldn't approach her, we let her come to us. We didn't want her to get even more frightened. We let her get comfortable. We also kept her favorite food and refreshed water out 24-7; anything convenient for her was convenient for us. It took a full 5 months for her to interact with us, but the more she was comfortable, the more we were with her.
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