How to help your pet deal with trauma; expert tips

By, New Delhi
Mar 25, 2023 06:48 PM IST

Emotional or physical abuse can leave a long-lasting impact on your pet's psyche. Here's how pet owners can help their furry companion to heal and trust again.

Just as in case of humans, physical or emotional abuse can leave a pet traumatised for ever. A pet subjected to constant yelling or beating may develop psychological or behavioural issues. Brought home by new owners, such distressed pets can be seen reacting in a certain way. For instance, a pet which was beaten regularly with collar belt in the past may urinate at a mere sight of collar in the hands of new pet parents. Such pets display certain common behaviour though not all act the same way. A loving, caring pet parent can help the pet come out of this trauma by making them feel safe, loved and cared. This may take some time. Do not hesitate to take professional help if you are not able to help your furry friend cope with their fears and emotions. (Also read: Avoid eye contact, stand very still: Pet behaviourist on useful tips to calm a dog, prevent dog bites)

A loving, caring pet parent can help the pet come out of this trauma by making them feel safe, loved and cared(Pexels)
A loving, caring pet parent can help the pet come out of this trauma by making them feel safe, loved and cared(Pexels)

"Your dog might exhibit their traumatic past differently than another dog would because every pup had a unique life before they joined your home. If you adopt a puppy, you might not be aware of the full extent of their history of trauma, but common warning signals include emotional shut-down, timidity, shyness, or fear. Aggression and/or fear are frequent indications of neglect and/or abuse," says Dr. Lalit Kenjale, Vet at Wiggles MyVet.

Here are tips by Dr Kenjale on how to help your dog deal with trauma.

Keep your pup safe

Getting acclimated to a new environment, human beings’ smell, and noises may stress the dog. This transition can be made easier, by taking some extra care to ensure that your new puppy is secure. Ensure your dog's collar is fitted properly and has ID tags containing your contact information and name.

Be patient

Adjusting to a new environment can be challenging for humans and dogs. You can start introducing them to other people and environments once they've started to feel at home in your house. Just be careful not to overwhelm your pup too much in the beginning. You don't want a dog to confront their fear in this condition because doing so can make them feel even more terrified. Instead, let them choose the tempo and take things as they come.

Use food to bond

If you've ever been around dogs, you are aware of how effective treats can be in modifying behaviour. Feed your dog by hand for a couple of weeks. It's a great method to begin forging a solid connection.

Let them keep some control

Your dog may feel as if they are in a different environment with unknown people. Dogs shouldn't be made to perform any tasks they don't want to. Although you are the alpha dog for your new pup, this is not the time for aggressive or 'alpha' behaviour. Instead, offer them the freedom to relax and some degree of liberty.

Get on their level

No matter how patient you are at first, if your dog has a history of trauma, they may be suspicious of people. Being physically close to your dog can aid in the development of a trusting relationship in addition to giving them lots of love and security. Especially if you're tall, sitting down nearby can help you come off as less imposing. They'll approach you when they're ready.

Ask for help

Employ a veterinarian behaviourist or a dog behaviourist who is qualified. It may take some time, but with love and patience, you can finally make your newfound dog feel completely at ease after trauma. Your relationship may become even stronger as you go through the healing process together.

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