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Do previously abused dogs ever really get over the past abuse?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Sparky (1993-2005)

Furry little- angel
 
 
Barked: Tue Mar 6, '07 6:49am PST 
We have a female Husky we adopted 2 years ago. Her name is Kyna and I'm still working on getting her profile up here, looking for a pic...lol. Anyways, the family we got her from claimed they couldn't keep her because of the wife's allergies. However, we think the allergies story was fake since we noticed signs of abuse when we got her home. She was very jumpy when you would pet her and she didn't see your hand. She also ran away once when we grabbed a broom to sweep. When we watered the lawn our other dog would jump and play with the water, but she would cower away. The poor thing didn't even know how to play. If you would throw a ball or toy she would just stand there and look at it and not know what to do. The first week we had her, she snuck into the kitchen and ate some chicken we had just made and left on the stove. We simply laughed about it because there's no use getting mad and she'd only been with us a few days and didn't know better yet. We think the old owners must have hit her for things like this. We've shown her that we will not hit her and have eased her lot. She no longer runs away when we get a broom or the hose. But, she still jumps sometimes when we pet her. It's so sad because she is such a sweet girl and she's so funny. I can't understand why people would be so cruel. And if they have little patience...then why even get a dog?!
Do you think she will ever completely get over her past abuse or does she already have a complex about it? She seems very comfortable with us now and she's very loving, but it still makes me sad everytime she jumps when she doesn't know we're going to pet her. We're just glad she's no longer in that enviornment!
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Augie - I miss you,- Little Man

Happiness was- Augie-shaped
 
 
Barked: Tue Mar 6, '07 7:15am PST 
I adopted Augie from a shelter as an adult, and had him for 8 and 1/2 years after that. He had obviously been abused in his past life/lives; among other things, loud voices scared him, and he was terrified of feet. In all that time, I don't think he ever came to completely trust me, which was really sad and made me feel terrible. As small dogs will do, he would be unexpectedly underfoot, and I'd trip over him accidentally...not hurting him in any way. He would scream in fear, then run and hide whenever this happened...the guilt was awful!
So I think that some dogs never get over it completely...and all you can do is try again and again to reassure them. Of course there are stories of pups who have been mistreated horribly and go on to complete recovery, too...so I suppose it depends on the dog.
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Maggie Lou- Hoo

She Who's What's- In Charge.
 
 
Barked: Tue Mar 6, '07 7:20am PST 
Because Dogs are the new Status Symbol- haven't you heard? They're all supposed to grow up to be like Benji crossed with both Air Bud and Lassie all on their own, with no training and less attention. (Bonus points for puppies in purses that Will Not fit into a handbag past three months.) And when it doesn't happen, they get stuffed into forgotten corners until the guilt of seeing them at all breeds anger in the DA owners( and I do *not* mean dog aggressive) who then begin actively abusing the dog instead of just passively neglecting him. At some point the owner will surrender the dog- not for the good of the dog, but out of fear of having him seen in the state that they've induced in him. Someone develops allergies, or has to move, or finds a stray. Bah, whatever. The dog is better off than he's ever been which is a blessing no matter how it happened.

Yes animals rebuild trust. Yes, it takes a long time- it tends to be directly related to how long he was in a neglectful/abusive situation and how severe was the abuse/neglect. Extreme case may never recover completely but can improve to incredible, lving, and functional degrees. Being hand-shy is common because the hand is the weapon of choice. I've found it helpful in rehabbing abused dogs to couple petting with treating. These babies tend to be even more food-motivated than usual, so petting becomes associated with something they find deeply satisfying. Also try to remember to let the dogs see your hands before you touch him. He may still flinch but that response will diminish when he learns to associate your hands with affection instead of pain. Then you can advance to showing one hand while petting with the other, then petting without showing hands. Talking to him will help, too. They're so keen to tones of voice and body language..

You're doing great. You're allowing him to build trust on his own terms and creating a sense of safety. Just keep being patient and I think you're both going to be fine. cheer
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Sparky (1993-2005)

Furry little- angel
 
 
Barked: Tue Mar 6, '07 7:25am PST 
Thanks. It just kills me to think that anyone could just abuse a defenseless dog. She isn't even an aggresive dog, she's very sweet. She was simply hit for doing the mischievious things puppies/dogs do. She really has made a great improvement, but it still breaks my heart to think of what she must have gone through.
I'm just happy we have her now to love and spoil her! big grin
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Khola- CDX, CGC

R plus and- paitence what a- shocking idea
 
 
Barked: Tue Mar 6, '07 7:26am PST 
Some dogs (I'm not saying this is you) are labled as abused when really they are just not socialized to people and expierences. These dogs can over come their insecurities after some work.

I don't think its a fair question to say "do they every get over past abuse" because we cannot ask them.

I can say for sure that my childhood dog, Buffy, was never hit by us, but if you rattled a newspaper... until the day she died she would crouch down.

The first few months... the first year... of a dogs life are very influential and this is where they learn the safe things and the not so safe htings in life. If they never are around men, they will be wary of men. If they are playing with a child and something falls on them, they may have a fear of small children after that.

The best you can do is do what you're working on. Be aware that this dogs past life wasn't full of roses and be fair. Know that some things make your new pup uncomfortable and that may cause fear reactions- peeing, yelping, possibly biting out of fear. Best of luck with helping your dog have some confidence.
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Sparky (1993-2005)

Furry little- angel
 
 
Barked: Tue Mar 6, '07 7:28am PST 
Maggie Lou - I agree with you. It sickens me to see people who have dogs just because it's the thing to do, but do not take the time and patience it takes to care for them. Dogs are not a prop and should not be treated as such! Celebrities carrying around dogs in purses make me sick! I wish people would quit being so ignorant and understand a dog is a responsibility!
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Zoey

Better than I- was
 
 
Barked: Tue Mar 6, '07 7:31am PST 
Rebulding trust takes a long time, oh yeah, it does. But it is possible. Zoey used to bolt INTO traffic, shies at loud noises, and bite the hand (mine) that fed and took care of her. After more than a year, she comes to her name (YEA). Leans toward me with the loud noises and for the most part ingores traffic. Prior to me by 18 months she had been thru three homes and 3 shelters, I can understand her trust issues. Time, patience, tolerance. repeat.
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Sparky (1993-2005)

Furry little- angel
 
 
Barked: Tue Mar 6, '07 7:32am PST 
Thanks Khola. But we got her when she was 2 years old, not as a puppy. And I've seen the signs of lack of socialization. But it's pretty obvious that this is not the case. We have 2 other dogs that she does great with. And she's really good with people, we even call her a little flirt because she especially loves men...lol. She only would cower away when it seemed she may be hit. Like grabbing the broom. So, even though she's doing a whole lot better now, I still think there's a tiny part of her that thinks we may hit her because of what she had to endure before.
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Khola- CDX, CGC

R plus and- paitence what a- shocking idea
 
 
Barked: Tue Mar 6, '07 7:36am PST 
I agree with you! This is why I wrote in the post that I wasn't saying that you were under socialized, but there are many dogs out there who are and that is their problem. And from seeing many other dogs that have been hit or something when they are young (when you didn't have her as a pup) that they just can't forget it because they are too impressionable.

Hope that clairifies a bit more.
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Kennitt

'It's all about- Me!'
 
 
Barked: Tue Mar 6, '07 7:39am PST 
Mom had one recover pretty much completely. Took much work, both by her and his current owner.

The first Bangkaew she had shipped in from Thailand was a basket case. The person that sold him to her had owned him since he was an 8 week old puppy and sold him at 2 years. He said he was a great dog, wonderful temperament, great show/foundation quality dog. After getting here Mom was horrified at both his condition and mental state. If you picked up anything like a stick or hose the dog would cower in terror. He was emaciated, filthy and wormy. You couldn't get near him without fear of getting bitten. It took her 2 weeks just to get him calmed down enough to go to the vet.

It took her months to earn his trust. Once he realized he wasn't going to get hit and get affection he blossomed. After neutering and another 6 months here, Mom placed him with her brother. They were both at a point where they needed each other. Two years later he is doing great, fat and happy, still has some issues being boarded(fear of abandonment) but a long way from the scared sickly dog he'd been.

Woof!!!
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