People commonly assume their new dogs who come with unknown histories have been victims of abuse. Though a dog’s behavior may seem to point to it, most of these dogs have not been abused. Whether or not abuse has occurred, the assumption can prevent people from giving their dogs the right support for success in a new chance at life.
What Has this Dog Been Through?
Dogs reared as puppies with perfect handling seldom land in need of adoption through shelters and rescues. This does not mean a dog is a poor risk for adoption. It does mean you should expect to work with the dog to overcome past deficits.
Socialization is an often unmet need in a dog who gives the impression of prior abuse. To become the most confident adult dog, a puppy needs to be positively exposed to a wide variety of people, places and things when young. These experiences build a puppy’s belief in being able to cope with the world.
A puppy who doesn’t have this variety of positive experiences can become fearful or aggressive toward many situations in adolescence and adulthood. When the dog behaves badly toward something, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion this thing has been involved with prior abuse. More likely, the pup didn’t get enough experience with this situation and is afraid simply because it’s strange.
Some dogs have had socialization experiences, but they were frightening. Another dog may have attacked or scared the pup. People may have handled outings badly, so now the dog expects bad things to happen on outings. Going out expecting trouble can bring trouble.
A dog who reacts badly to children may have been teased by kids over a backyard fence. Some strange dynamic makes children think a barking dog “deserves” to be teased, and then of course the dog gets even more upset. The results are bad for both kids and dogs.
Adults are often guilty of teasing confined dogs, too. Especially problematic is the dog stuck on a tie-out with other dogs and humans in the vicinity...
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