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Helping an Abused Dog

This is our a 2 yr old Lab/mix. She will only eat in her crate laying down. How do I get her to eat standing up and outside of her crate? Right now she is not eating or drinking water. She is an abused dog from Georgia.

By Ria from East Hartford, Ct

Helping an Abused Dog
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February 22, 20110 found this helpful

What is this not eating or drinking? Can you hand feed? Offer water? Your new baby is terrified and it will just take some time for her to trust. When she finds she is a family member, not crated or tied or locked up or ignored or beaten she will be the best, most faithful, loving dog. Treats from your hand, praise for potty outside, easy on the scolding should she have an accident inside, peacefulness, warmth, love, touching, good food, build good immune system, borax in the carpets for fleas, no vaccines(see and you will never vaccinate anything), food grade diatomacious earth for intestinal worms, all the good stuff like love and kisses and she will return ten fold good things for the family.

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February 22, 20110 found this helpful

If she's only eating/drinking in her crate, maybe that's because she feels safe there. I don't have any experience with this (although you're going to get a lot of it in the archives below), but I'd suggest to continue feeding her in her crate for now, but maybe leave a bowl of food & water in a quiet place not real close to people so that she has that option if she wants to try it. Also, maybe while she's in her crate, put a small treat or couple of pieces of dry dog food on the floor just outside the crate until she gets curious & decides to try it,then continue to do this & over a few days move the treat farther & farther away from her crate until she will come out & eat it.

Right now I think you should just continue to feed her where she feels most secure & give her a calm & loving environment while you try to get her to try the food you leave outside her crate. Poor baby, she's a pretty thing. I hope she comes around & realizes she's left her abuse behind & will only get love from now on!

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February 22, 20110 found this helpful

I agree with lyonpridej. I think her advice is right on. Also put treats several times a day in the bowl outside the crate so she will get use to eating out of that bowl. She will come around slowly. Give her lots of time and you will see patience works

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February 22, 20110 found this helpful

Aww. she is adorable! Your fur-baby needs to learn to trust you. She was probably only fed in a crate that is why she eats there. Please leave the door open for her and put her food/water outside the crate nearest the opening so she can reach it. Give her lots of loves and speak softly to her to re-assure her. Good luck.

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March 1, 20110 found this helpful

Here's my two cents:

EXERCISE then DISCIPLINE and then and only then AFFECTION. We need to remember one very simple truth: Dogs are not humans. Now matter how much we want them to be they do not see the world and express themselves in the same way that we do. Not understanding how a dog thinks is detrimental to the dog.

I would use techniques that display leadership rather than dominance. You don't want to challenge the dog, but rather show the dog that you are the Alpha and he need not worry about anything because you are in charge. The leader of a pack would not allow another member to be emotionally unstable. Use a 'touch' correction - where you use your fingertips as teeth and jab the dog in the neck just enough for him to feel it, but be sure not to push, just jab. This is normal in the dog world and the dog would associate that with a bite from another dog rather than abuse from a human. This dog needs and wants leadership and instruction so he can feel calmer.

*Note, it is counter productive to pet or caress your dog when it is nervous. That only reinforces the behavior.

Dogs, unlike humans, don't need to be coddled when they're upset, they want and need to be able to look to a leader that they trust to make the decisions and to take care of them. It is calming to a dog that is not alpha dominant to be directed in some way, THAT is what calms a dog down. If there is a time when the dog is starting to get nervous, try distracting her w/ commands. A good distraction is to command the dog to sit or lay down.

Next, you must be patient and not display agitation at the dog. The dog will pick up on that negative emotion and therefore will not respond like we want.

To help build your bond, I would suggest that you walk with the dog a minimum of 5 days a week. The 'walk' is very therapeutic for dogs mentally and it will also help build your bond with him. The catch is that the walk is only useful if it is done correctly. The dog cannot be pulling or distracted. He needs to be focused on you and moving forward. This will take time, patience and determination, but is vital to having a happy dog.

Also, lots of exercise will help to calm him by burning some of that nervous energy.

*Note, there is a misconception that a big backyard is as good as a walk. This is so very untrue. The dog sees a backyard, no matter how big it is as a big cage. Yes, they can play and have fun, but NO it is not a substitute for walking with your dog.

At the same time, at home we can do some exercises that will help develop trust. With a treat, gradually try to get the dog to come to out of the kennel (this is his 'safe spot', which he NEEDS to have and should always be available for him. I suggest you use a small bit of meat to be able to tempt the dog (hard to resist a hot dog!).

We also need to make sure we are aware of how dogs view body language. A dog sees prolonged eye contact and full frontal body exposure as a challenge. This will immediately scare off the dog. We do not want to stare at the dog or to come squarely at the dog. We want to use our peripheral vision and we want to position our body to the side and get on the floor rather than standing. This demonstrates non threatening behavior on your part. This will help desensitize the dog and help the dog see that you are not a threat (like some other human figures in the beginning of the dog's life).

During any of this training it goes without saying that continuous positive reinforcement be used when the dog does something good. This can be talking in a soft, high pitched voice, a scratch in a favorite spot, or a treat.

This is not, by any means, an exhaustive list of to do's. This is just a quick blurp of info. None of this is, by any means, easy. This will take time, patience, dedication and determination on both of your parts.

Good luck and I recommend to watch the Dog Whisperer on The National Geographic Channel!


**Kudos to all of the ppl out there that have a shelter pet!!

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December 1, 2011 Flag
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I am currently babysitting a dog that was formally abused by a man. I am a woman and it took her a couple days to get used to me and now after three months she has total trust in me. She continues to growl at my husband and run away from him. I totally understand the dog's situation and know it takes time and patience. Any thoughts to help her accept my husband more?

By Beth P

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December 2, 20110 found this helpful

It will probably just take time. I'm dealing with a stray kitty that is so afraid of humans. I finally have him where he won't slap at me when I put down his food bowl, but we're a long way from his letting me touch him.

Maybe if your husband spoke in really low tones, didn't try to touch him...get cuddly on the couch with a blanket and some doggie treats?

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December 2, 20110 found this helpful

I agree it will take some time. When we first got our Emily she didn't like men either, she was scared to death of my husband. it took a good year and even though she is definitely my dog she loves to play with my husband. And if she gets "mad" at me she goes and sits by him.

She has learned to trust and love him - we have now had her 3 years. I will never understand how people derive pleasure from making animals fear them. It breaks my heart when an animal flinches from my extended hand. Lots of love and kindness slowly fades away the abuses they have endured.

Good luck and God bless you for your kindness towards her.

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December 2, 20110 found this helpful

Try going on this website of The Dog Whisperer, or watch his program. You can email him also, I think. His name is Cesar Millan. He is just wonderful with what he does for animals. I know he could help Good luck.

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December 2, 20110 found this helpful

Time & much patience. He just needs to remain calm & unthreatening. Maybe even carry treats in his pocket to entice... gently!

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February 21, 2011 Flag
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My husband and I adopted a dog from a woman on Craigslist. She said that she couldn't feed him anymore and that she saved him from abusive drug addicts. Now that we have him home (which is a large house with a backyard), he is very timid. He's great on walks and has a great time.

Most of the time he's sweet and comes up to you when you call him, but he sometimes will (out of nowhere) be very skittish. He'll cower and pee, run away and whimper. It's very strange because most of the time he's fine. It's very frustrating. Especially since he knows how to use the doggy door, but refuses if he knows we're home. He'd rather be cold than come in on his own (not that we lock him out).

I would appreciate some advice on how to handle, cope, reassure, anything would be nice. At this point we're just dumbfounded on his mood swings.

By TJ from Fresno, CA


Helping an Abused Dog

My husband and I adopted a beautiful Chihuahua a year ago. The woman who had her said she was giving the dog away because her husband was abusive and the dog would hide when her husband came in the home. She said they had left the dog for two days in the house and when they came home, her husband shouted at the dog for peeing on the floor. And after that the dog would hide all the time if he was in the home. I told her she needed to get rid of her husband, not her dog.

I am telling you though this dog is the best dog in the world. We treat her like she is the most precious creature on earth. She has never reacted negatively to us ever. We have a male Chihuahua she has bonded with and we plan to never separate them from each other.
We use crates for them also and yes they do love their own space. (12/08/2010)

By Bookeesmom

Helping an Abused Dog

I wish you so much luck and thank you for taking in this poor abused dog. Chances are that his "mood swings" are triggered by a memory of abuse, for example, maybe he can become frightened of the doggie door as he remembers being hurt in the past by the abusive first owner for doing just that, using the doggie door when the abusive addict wasn't in the mood to see the dog and decided to beat him instead.

Abused animals have such huge, horrid, histories that they can't share with us, verbally. I so wish they could talk to us like they did to Dr. Dolittle.

Just love him, reinforce positive behavior with lots of happy scratches and kisses. Be stern, but kind and nonthreatening, when the fur guy messes up. (Cowering then peeing.) He will learn to understand the difference between healthy discipline and unacceptable abuse. Your dog just needs to learn to trust again. With your love and patience, he will do just that. I'm sure it is frustrating, but consistent kindnesses will win in the end. Good luck, and tummy scratches galore for your dog! Seriously, go find him and do so right now, just 'cuz! :-) (12/08/2010)

By KansasCindy

Helping an Abused Dog

9 years ago I took in an abused dog, not knowing that he had a rough background at all. He is now 13 years old and just wonderful! First, you need to build trust between you and the dog, see that was very easy for me because mine took to me easily. My dog was still a bit leery about my hubby, but in time got over it.

If he is cowering down, of course, something is scaring him. Was it a loud noise, maybe you moved too fast, or whatever, try to figure out what is making him feel uncomfortable, and after you have built that trust you can help him through these moments. Calmly talk to him, pet him, and be gentle. If you are upset he will know and that will make him feel edgy. I know it is frustrating, but keep trying to figure out what is bothering him. As for using the doggy door he may feel like he is not allowed to. Try to encourage him with treats. Praise him when he uses it. The more positive attention he gets the more he will do that particular thing.

Most importantly. Hang in there. You seem to already have made progress and to think of what that poor thing has been through. You saved him! You gave him a second chance. Good luck. (12/09/2010)

By brenneman826

Helping an Abused Dog

Maybe he would respond well to other dogs. Maybe you could seek out a friend with a dog his size and arrange play dates. Are there any dog parks nearby? (12/09/2010)

By bilbobaggins7

Helping an Abused Dog

There is a website called that shows you how to knit, sew, or crochet blankets for dogs or cats that are in shelters, or who were strays or abused animals. It says they have a calming effect on these animals. Maybe one of these, or even a doggy bed or blanket would help him feel comforted.

I am making a Snuggle Tubbie for my kitty even though she is a happy cat just because I know she will like it. You might want to look at the patterns link for ideas of what your dog might like. If you don't knit, crochet, or sew, maybe someone you know does and would be happy to help you out caring for your special dog. (12/09/2010)

By SuzyQ82

Helping an Abused Dog

There is so much good advice here! the only thing I could think to add would be to consider obedience or agility training. It is a great confidence builder for dogs. Other than that you are on the right track and I am sure time will take care of the rest. (12/10/2010)

By Lizzyanny

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December 8, 2010 Flag
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About 2 months ago I had rescued an American Pit Bull Terrier. He has had no human contact, and he's never been shown any love. The most human contact he has gotten was when he was beaten by his previous owner. So if you have any ideas please let me know.

September 13, 2010 Flag
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I just got a Golden Retriever from an owner who rescued him from his previous abuser. He is a very well behaved dog and has done absolutely no wrong. My only issue is that he's very timid and shy (not in an aggressive manner).

July 16, 2010 Flag
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I have adopted a 4 year old registered male Australian Shepherd. It is obvious that he has been abused.

June 2, 2010 Flag
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Kali, my Springer Spaniel, had been abused by her former owner when I brought her home at 9 months. She is afraid of men and will avoid them, but when they turn away she will run up and bite them.

April 11, 2010 Flag
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I have a 5 mo. old Chihuahua. I believe he was abused. He won't take treats from me and stays in his little bed all day. What can I do to help him?

May 28, 2009 Flag
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I have adopted a 10 month old dog from a lost dogs home. When I am feeding him, if I try and touch him, he growls, etc. Tonight when I fed him, he bit me. Any training tips for this out there? I just want him to know that he will always get his dinner, and that there is no need for him to guard it.

January 20, 2008 Flag
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