Making room in your heart and your life for a rescue dog is one of the most rewarding things in life. In my experience, rescue dogs can be some of the most best-behaved dogs that walk into the clinic, welcoming you with a tail wag and a smile. Unfortunately, there are some rescue dogs that aren’t as trusting and came from homes that did not love them.
Here are some signs that your rescue dog may have come from an abusive home…
Just wants to hide
Dogs that come from abusive households may just want to hide for weeks before they are comfortable coming out and joining their new family. Hiding makes them feel safe from harm. If they do come out from their safe place and something spooks them, they may run right back to their hiding place.
It’s important not to disturb a dog that is in a place they feel safe. Let them come to you. They need to know that no one will bother them when they hide.
Shy away—especially from human contact, such as petting
When a dog is in an abusive household, they are usually hit or kicked. Sadly, most of these dogs are hit in the head. A rescue dog that was in an abusive household may cower away from being pet on the head.
If this happens, put your hand out so the dog can smell your hand. Start by petting them under the chin and move to their ears and the top of their head. Let them know that with you they are safe, and do not force any petting, make it mutual.
Reacts to hats is a sign your dog came from an abusive home
As silly as it sounds, a dog that has been abused by a man that wore a hat can associate the hat with abuse. You can tell this by how a rescue dog reacts to someone that is wearing a hat. As soon as they see the hat, they may want to run and hide.
Take the hat off and remind them that they are in a safe place and who you really are. Or, just wait until you are out of your rescue dog’s sight before placing the hat on.
Unfortunately, many rescue dogs that came from abusive homes may turn aggressive towards a man or a woman. They may also try to bite when handled. For example, a small dog may thrash and try to bite if picked up. An abused dog may try to establish dominance, as to say, “I will not let you hurt me.”
If a rescue dog shows major aggressive tendencies, it can become extremely dangerous, especially if there are children in the dog’s new home. Training will definitely be needed if this is the case, including a lot of positive reinforcement. Sometimes it is so bad that the dog needs to be rehomed or sadly, euthanized if proved to be too dangerous.
Rescuing a dog is an awesome thing to do in your life. But, it takes a ton of patience to earn that dog’s trust, especially if they came from an abusive home. Remember to let your new friend take their time to come around and show their true colors.
Remember, your rescue dog has a past but you have the power to make their future brighter. If you suspect they came from an abusive home, patience is the best medicine.