Abused Dog Behavior – Phoenix Scottsdale AZ Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
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“I think my dog acts that way because he was abused.”
I regularly hear this when doing behavioral evaluations of fearful, aggressive, or defensively aggressive dogs. It then becomes part of my investigation to determine if there is enough reason to believe there was abuse, or if there is another likely reason. Oftentimes, the cause of the behavior is relevant to how it should be treated.
Physical abuse can cause dogs to be this way. When examining a dog, I look for indications of past injuries, and reactions to being physically hurt. I also listen to the entire story of a dog’s background. I have been around dogs for a very long time now, and have heard any number of horror stories. I have been a rescue volunteer, and I stay on top of dog abuse stories. Psychological trauma can also cause dogs to feel this way. Neglect can sometimes be just as bad as terrorizing a dog. There are clues I look for, and typical abnormal behaviors, which indicate past abuse. Oftentimes, a dog that is acting fearful, aggressive, or defensively aggressive is a dog that wasn’t socialized as a young puppy. Or it could be a puppy that was overly pressured by its littermates. On the other hand, some dogs are just born with unstable temperaments. When you see enough puppy litters, you will come to see that some puppies are born with problems. No one did anything to them. This is not the type of puppy you should choose for your home. Sometimes, what seems to be a dog that has been abused is really a dog with a medical problem. Diseases, hormone imbalances, soreness from arthritis or scar tissue from past injuries, adverse reactions to vaccinations, or allergies can all result in a dog being emotionally unstable. These are situations to work out with your veterinarian.
There are a number of things a dog behaviorist can do with a dog that has been abused. First, is a thorough evaluation of the dog and home. Second, is a proposal for how to approach the problems. Third, is implementation of the plan. Forth, is long term follow up. This requires working with a professional, and not doing it yourself.
This article is not designed to explain how to fix problems with abused dogs. That would require writing a very thick book on dog behavior modification. What is important to understand is that not all dogs that act abused really were abused. On the other hand, dogs that were abused need help. Whatever attitudes they have, whatever weird behaviors they are now doing, all need to be unraveled. In my experience, abused dogs take a while to get better. It won’t happen overnight. Many people want a quick fix, such as getting an electric collar, or using some other mechanical solution. None of those things fix the underlying insecurities of an abused dog. In addition, money is going to need to be invested in training, and possibly medical treatment. Lastly, some dogs can be turned around and some can’t. You need to go into this with your eyes wide open. This dog needs help, and you’re there to give the dog a fair shot at having a better life if at all possible.
Was your dog abused? Without direct evidence, then it will always be a guess. On the other hand, if you know a dog has been abused, this can also become a legal issue, and in those circumstances, it is possible you’ll be talking with the police, a prosecutor, insurance company, and an attorney. It can get very complicated. My expertise isn’t the law, it is in evaluation and treatment of behavioral problems, even if they involved abuse. So, you’re also going to need a professional dog behaviorist.
As we all know, dogs should not be abused. Ever. But it happens. Sometimes behavioral problems that look like past abuse were not as a result of abuse at all. Regardless, this kind of dog’s undesirable behavior is a call for help. Someone has to step up and see to it that this dog gets a chance at rehabilitation.
Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.
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