Thursday, November 29, 2012

Caring for Rescued or Abused Dogs

By Eliza Wynn

Animal lovers who have adopted an abused or rescued dog know it's one of the most rewarding things they've ever done. It can also be hard for first-time adopters to figure out how to make things easier for themselves and their new companions. These dogs have been through a lot, and their experiences often make them hesitant to trust people again. It's up to the adopters to help them adjust to their new life as part of a loving family. With that in mind, here are some tips for caring for rescued or abused dogs that will help them feel safe, confident and loved.

Supply Run

Not having essential supplies when you need them is stressful, and pets pick up on that stress. Before bringing your new family member home, be prepared for the inevitable messes by having pet-safe cleaning supplies on hand. Other important items include puppy pads, grooming and first-aid supplies, chew toys, CANIDAE dog food, and a leash and collar. By preparing in advance, you'll be more likely to stay calm when things don't go as planned.

Home Vet Visit

As a responsible pet owner, you'll want to have your dog's health checked out right away. If possible, arrange to have a trusted veterinarian provide the initial exam at your home. Once your dog realizes that this new person is a friend, you can schedule future visits at the veterinary clinic.

Use a Gentle Tone

Use a gentle tone of voice whenever your dog is nearby, and always speak his name kindly. Loud voices and harsh words can be frightening, especially to a dog that's already anxious or fearful. Use praise when appropriate, occasionally supplemented with a CANIDAE dog treat. Sing to him softly, and if this has a soothing effect, use the same song whenever he needs some extra TLC.

Calm Environment

Even when you're not speaking directly to your dog, it's best to provide a calm environment and avoid situations that will overstimulate him. Keeping the noise level down includes lowering the television volume, avoiding or limiting the use of loud tools and appliances, and not screaming in terror when you see an 8-legged creepy-crawly inside the home. Keep introductions to new people at a minimum, and limit contact with small children.

Low-Key Outings

It's possible that your dog associates riding in the car with bad experiences, and you'll want to change that. Take him on outings he'll enjoy, such as a trip to the park or a dog-friendly beach. Be sure to keep everything low-key until he's ready for more stimulation and adventure.

Safe Place

Dogs need a “den” where they can retreat to feel safe, and this is especially important for abused dogs trying to adjust to new surroundings. Provide a safe environment such as a carrier or crate, and make sure your dog knows where it is and can get inside when he feels the need.

Patience and Understanding

Like people, dogs have their own distinct personalities and issues. Don't force your new dog to play or show affection before he's ready. Bonding takes time, especially with a dog that's been neglected or abused. Spend a lot of time together, but don't push. Instead, let him observe you while you go about your day; he'll get used to having you around, become familiar with his surroundings, and learn to trust you.

As you work toward building a loving, trusting relationship with your new companion, you'll understand what those who have been in your shoes already know: that the rewards of giving a rescued or abused dog a safe, loving home are immeasurable.

Photo by Brian Smith


  1. All those things are so true. The main thing is to be gentle with an abused animal and patience, patience. That is a most rewarding experience.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I see that you've had the pleasure of sharing your life with many pets over the years.

  2. I love this article! We sing to our rescued dog and cat all the time (yes, my husband sings to them too, but don't tell him said that). This is true - the rewards of giving a rescued or abused dog a safe, loving home are immeasurable.

    1. Thanks, Langley! Hey, there's nothing wrong with singing to them. I'm sure they enjoy it!


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