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How to Rehabilitate a Dog That Was Abused

Mike Sagman

Mike Sagman, DDS, a former restorative and cosmetic dentist, oversees the Dog Food Advisor as founder and managing editor. This website publishes independent ratings and reviews of different dog food brands to help customers find the best food for their pet. A passionate advocate for dog and animal rights, Dr. Mike Sagman supports the prevention of dog abuse.

Before accepting the responsibility of rehabilitating an abused dog, pet owners should fully understand what caring for such a dog will entail. Dogs that were abused often don’t behave like “normal” dogs. They are frequently scared by noises from the television or by children playing and are likely to have a fear of people and the outdoors. Further, many abused dogs won’t accept petting or treats and don't like walking on a leash or coming when called.
If owners are willing to accept the extra challenges of rehabilitating a rescue dog, patience will be required. When first adopting these types of dogs, owners should give them plenty of time to relax and grow accustomed to their new surroundings. They must be allowed to explore their new home’s scents and sounds. During this time, new owners can make themselves appear less threatening by bending down any time they approach the dog. Further, they can speak in a soft and gentle tone to avoid frightening them.
It’s also important to show formerly abused dogs that they are loved and protected. Rescue dogs should be taken to the vet on a regular basis and exercised every day. At first, these outings should be kept short and far away from anything that may startle the dog. In addition, rescue dogs need their own safe space with toys where they can retreat when they need to feel safe.

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