help with my formerly absused foster dog?

a couple of weeks ago, my family took in a young foster dog. the place she came from kept her in a kennel 15 hours a day and left her blind in one eye and with scars all over her body. but when she arrived in our home, she was perfect. we let her out of her kennel, and she ran around the house! so interested in everything.. friendly and so so so sweet. we cuddled all the time and played and went for walks. then, a couple of days ago, because she seemed so perfectly normal i suppose i forgot she was an abuse case, and i made a terrible mistake. i got down on my knees and started playing with her, rather roughly. not maliciously! at all, just playing with her like i do my other dogs that i have had for years. when she didn’t play back, i stopped and started my homework. that night my brother was a little hard on her for not laying down and going to sleep at night. i think the combination of these events has really done the damage.. because now she is almost too scared to leave her kennel. she shys away from me when i go near her, and sits in her kennel all day no matter how much i beckon her to come out and dote on her. she’s started eating less. i am so so so worried about the damage i may have caused, and wish i knew how to make her feel comfortable again. any suggestions?

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4 Responses to “help with my formerly absused foster dog?”

  1. Debbie D says:

    I too have rescue dogs, and It’s sometimes hard to deal with problems that you don’t know the cause of. That being said, you need to remember that dogs live in the moment, and it’s never too late to change. The best thing you can do is stop feeling sorry for her. Dogs pick up on our emotions, and what this dog needs more than anything is a calm, assertive pack leader to make her feel secure. By all means, keep in mind what she has been through, and handle her accordingly, but don’t be afraid to be firm, either. Coddling and babying her will do more harm than good.

  2. Mike says:

    Positive feedback is the only way to go… try luring her away with treats. Also, when you have her away, calmly pet her and reassure her. Have your brother do that too. When you play with her, never play with her directly with your hands, always use a toy.

    When trying to train her, you all need to be extremely patient, give lots of praise. A commanding"no" is the only verbal correction she should receive, this should not be yelled. If you are teaching a new command or trick, start with something that she knows and can perform (such as a sit command) then give the new command, and gently position her body to where you want it, repeat the command, then give praise. You will need to do this a lot, she will learn. Dogs are inherently eager to please.

  3. Kelle says:

    It is very unlikely that your behaviour caused any problem. Abused dogs can be fine one day and fearful the next. We can’t figure out what happened. Continue to gently love her and she may come around. Like children though, sometimes the effects of the abuse is permanent.

  4. psychohabib says:

    Neurotic dogs can be very put off by hands-on play. My rescue husky is just now, after 4 years of rehabilitation, learning that chasing can be fun and isn’t always menacing and doesn’t always lead to whipping. Your playing likely didn’t do any damage especially because she can feel the energy you’re putting out and, while making her nervous, she may very well have been quite aware that you meant no real harm. How hard was your brother on her? If he raised his voice or made any sudden movements he may have frightened her.

    My dog was one of many bought, partly out of pity, from a musher known to whip and yell at his dogs, among other things. Not the worst case of abuse, but enough to make them all quite skittish. My dog was afraid of the dangling end of his leash for two years. Fast movements sent him running and hiding for a year and made him flinch for a couple years after. Raised voices still send him out of the room to hide.

    She’s adjusting to a new home, so give her her space and let her figure some of this out herself. Doting on her is a bad idea. Giving her attention and coddling her nervous behavior only reinforces it. You’re telling her it is okay to be nervous, that there is a reason to be nervous. Your anxiousness to get her to come back out of it radiates from you and she picks up on that, though she only understands that you are anxious and that feeds her insecurity.

    Google NILIF and get the household started on it. Ignore her when she’s nervous, pet her when she’s calm. It may take her a few weeks to adjust, it may take her a few months to come out of most of her skittishness, it may take years. It took me 2 years to get my dog into a stable state of mind and another year to get him comfortable enough to approach people and not to cringe at every single noise or fast movement. It took me 4 years to get him familiar with the concept of playing. It takes time, A LOT of patience, and consistency. Trust me, if she’s slow to come out of this it WILL test your patience.

    You can’t yell at her, or really even raise your voice. Don’t hit her, don’t even motion like you’re going to hit her or you’ll have to start all over again.

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