How To Get An Abused Dog To Trust You?

how to get an abused dog to trust you

Unfortunately, there are lots of cases of dogs being abused by their owners. This causes negative influences on them for life. So, when adopting an abused dog, it is necessary for you to emphasize on methods to gain their trust. But how to get an abused dog to trust you is still a challenging question. 

In fact, many dog owners don’t know how to train an abused dog and apply the wrong reinforcements. Some even send the dog back to the refuge. This, as a result, makes the problems even worse. 

So if you are determined to go with abused dogs for adoption, you will have to know that this is a long journey requiring much time, patience, dedication, and love. But in return, you know it is worthy because the bond that you build between you and your dog becomes stronger. 

How do you know if a dog has been abused?

It is entirely possible that you have adopted a new dog without knowing he has experienced abuse before. It is crucial to recognize the signs of the previous traumas that the dog has experienced. This way, you can get a higher chance of making him calm and believe you again.  

Physical signs

One of the most common signs to know that your dog has been abused is probably looking at its physical condition. If your dog seems so skinny or has a healing wound when you first adopted him from his previous owner, it’s possible that your canine has been ignored or neglected. 

These signs could also be the nails getting longer than usual or the fur looks dirty and unhealthy. In addition, you can notice your dog is walking with an unusual posture or tail tucked between two rear legs. Or if your dog has any spots on his body that he doesn’t want you to touch on. Those are all possible symptoms that your canine has been abused for at least some time or longer.

An abused dog with long nails
Long nails can be a sign of an abused dog.

Seek attention and attraction

Actually, lots of studies show that abused dogs are not only affected by physical mistreatment but also psychological maltreatment. 

If you see your dog tends to be more attached to you than it should be, it is possible that he has been abandoned by his former owner. Or it could be that he didn’t receive (or little) social interaction. 

When abused psychologically, a dog is likely to develop separation anxiety. These dogs were usually rehomed or experienced unstable situations. 

Food aggression 

Does your new adopted dog growl at you or other pets in your home for coming too close when he is eating? Does he refuse to eat the food you give him? Or does he bite the bone you give him so fast that you have to suspect that if he really tastes that food? Those are signs that your pooch hasn’t provided a reliable source of food or hasn’t received enough food. 

If you notice this symptom, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian immediately to have a prompt solution.


Food aggression in an abused dog
Abused dogs tend to have food aggression.


As you may all know, dogs are usually submissive. However, if a dog is overly submissive, it is possible that he has been emotionally abused. Some of the most common signs are:

  • Rolling over with a tail tucked or cowering when people approach him
  • Cringing or lying down when going urination
  • Even “smiling” while urinating

If you scold your dog while he is urinating, you can make the issue worse. In this case, it’s better to talk with a veterinarian or trainer to find appropriate solutions to make your dog feel more comfortable living with you.

Signs of submission in abused dogs
A dog cringes as a sign of submission due to previously abused.

Fear or aggression 

It is not surprising that a formerly abused dog will develop fears of strangers. Especially when he was abused by his previous owner. Besides, these dogs tend to be aggressive with cats or other pets in your house.

For example, if he was beaten by a belt may immediately cringe, try to hide or urinate when you are going to put a belt on him. Another reaction could be that the dog will plunge into and try to bite the belt you are holding. 

Helping an abused dog rehabilitate and trust you

When you know the reasons or signs that your dog has experienced physical and psychological abuse, how will you help him to recover and trust you? Depending on your dog’s mental and physical trauma levels, his temperament, or the degree of resilience, etc., you will have suitable methods. You also might need to adjust your lifestyle to make your dog more comfortable, confident, and happier. 

How to help an abused dog to rehabilitate and trust you again
How to help an abused dog to rehabilitate and trust you again.

Here are some useful tips to help your dog overcome the history of abuse. 

  • Before you welcome an abused dog, prepare a secure place to retreat for them. It would be best to have a cozy, quiet place in your house. 
  • Use a soft and low voice instead of scolding or shouting at your dog. This gradually strengthens his previous fears.
  • Never use physical abuse, like hitting, because this will scare your dog.
  • Transmit your warmth and affection by smiling at your dog whenever you see him. You know, dogs can understand non-verbal language and this can help you gain trust.
  • Come toward your dog slowly instead of sudden moves so that he won’t get scared.
  • Don’t force your canine to do anything he doesn’t want to do. Let him go to his own space because this can calm him down.
  • Try to use positive reinforcement techniques. You can reward your dog when he has good behaviors. But don’t use violence to punish his bad or wrong actions. 
  • Let your dog get acquainted with the surroundings by taking him for long walks. 
  • A regular daily routine is always an essential way to let your dog get to know a new, comfortable life.

Those are just some possible ways on how to get an abused dog to trust you. In fact, it hugely depends on you who interact with him every day. You will need to spend lots of effort to accompany him on this long journey.

What to do if your dog is still scared?

First of all, never give up on your abused dog. You know he has gone through physical and emotional traumas. Therefore, if you abandon him again, things will get absolutely worse. Your pooch needs thorough understanding, lots of patience and affection. 

If you have applied the above tips and still feel that you can’t control your dog’s fears or aggression, it’s best to take him to a specialist who understands how to rehabilitate an abused dog well. I know it will be a long journey. However, as long as you are persevering and getting proper consultation, I believe that you will approach and eliminate his fears. This gradually makes your dog happier.

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