Abused Animals Need Special Care as Pets
Some of the things to know if you adopt a formerly abused pet
Sadly, many animals, including family pets, are victims of abuse at some point in their lives. Abuse can be active in the form of physical attacks or punishment, or it can be passive.
In some cases, you may not know for sure if your adopted pet was formerly abused or neglected, but you can assume it’s the case if your pet displays the following signs:
- Withdrawn or overly timid
- Insecure in open spaces
- Fear of the outdoors
- Spends time in the corner of a room or in a hiding place
- Extreme separation anxiety
- Makes very little noise
- Food aggression or frantic/rapid eating
- Anti-social behavior
- Fear without known cause (such as fear of inanimate objects, like a garbage can)
The Key to remember with an abused pet is it will take time for it to trust and feel safe again. The animal’s ability to bounce back also depends on when the abuse or neglect occurred. Abuse suffered during the early weeks and months of life can have life-long effects that a dog or cat may not be able to overcome ever.
Your adopted pet may have missed out on necessary socialization during this crucial developmental window and therefore may have a hard time ever feeling fully comfortable around strangers or children, for instance.
That said, you can still help your pet to thrive to its best ability.
All pets need to feel loved, but for an abused pet this is of Key importance. You will need to make your dog feel loved and needed and you will need to work at his speed.
Do not force him to meet new family members all at once, and follow his lead when trying new experiences. If he seems fearful, protect him, do not make him keep going until he is ready.
At the same time, reward even small signs of progress, which will help to build his confidence. Be sure you also make your home a safe place for your dog or cat.
The ASPCA uses soundproofing and calming music; you might also try soft music or at the very least be sure everyone in your household speaks in low, calm tones.
Yelling should be always be avoided, as this is often traumatic for previously abused animals. One of the best things you can do is to simply spend some quiet time with your pet each day. Sit in a quiet space and calmly interact with your dog or, if he is not yet ready for that, read a book to him.
Bring treats with you and reward your dog with a treat every few minutes.
Your dog will soon learn to look forward to spending this time with you and, ultimately, will learn he can trust you. While it takes extra work and dedication on your part, the love you can receive from an animal in need is immeasurable.
If you would like to make a difference in the life of an abused animal and you have the room in your home and your heart for such a pet, consider adopting and rehabilitating a previously abused pet.
Animals that have been victims of abuse or neglect require special care and understanding. It is good work.