How to Help an Abused Dog to Trust

Be ready to spend a great deal of time with your dog.
Be ready to spend a great deal of time with your dog. (Image: Janie Airey/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Dogs that are taken from abusive situations may be nervous and fearful. Because they have endured neglect or violence, they may shy away from humans or be very afraid when humans try to handle them. If you are working with an abused dog, it takes time and steady ongoing effort to encourage a dog to trust again. Getting an abused dog to trust you is the first step toward helping it become a happy animal.

Move slowly and steadily around the dog. The dog may associate quick, jerky movements with anger or violence.

Speak softly and soothingly to your dog on a regular basis to get her used to your voice. Raised voices are a sign of aggression and the dog may have come from a home where she was often loudly scolded.

Designate one person in the family to take care of the bulk of the dog's needs. A formerly abused dog may be nervous or upset around large numbers of people. This helps the dog become acclimatized to that person and to become more comfortable with him.

Take the dog for a 20- to 30-minute walk every day. Exercise helps the dog burn off nervous energy, allowing her to be calmer.

Provide a crate for the dog. A crate is an area that is safe for the dog, and he may need the small space if he is overwhelmed by being in a new, large area.

Keep to a schedule. A routine, reliable schedule allows an abused dog to become comfortable in her environment and to know what to expect.

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