5 Tips for Traumatized Dogs

In recent weeks, we’ve discussed fearful and brittle dogs. Some dogs can have the best start in life and still grow up with behavioral concerns. Other dogs missed out on critical socialization experiences as puppies, which impacted their development. But what about dogs who have had it even worse? How does trauma impact dogs?

Some of the dogs we take into our homes don’t just come from neglectful pasts but have lived with outright abuse. Sometimes this abuse has been due to mistreatment at the hands of a past owner, and sometimes it has happened in the current home despite to the owner’s very best intentions. Trauma has a lifelong impact on many dogs.

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Training is still an unregulated field, which means that there are still many so-called trainers who use aversive training techniques to address behavioral problems. There’s a reason why the AVSAB, the organization for the premier experts in animal behavior, has a position statement regarding the use of punishment in training. Manufacturing fear or avoidance in an already panicked animal does not create an environment where critical learning can take place. I’ve heard of trainers shocking dogs who suffer from separation anxiety for barking in their crates, hanging dog-aggressive dogs by their neck when they lunged at others, and strapping electronic collars to dogs’ genitals in the name of behavior modification.

Remember that you are your dog’s advocate. If something doesn’t seem right to you, it is up to you to put your foot down and protect your dog. Even something as seemingly mild as squirting a reactive dog with a water bottle or gently placing a frightened dog into a fear-inducing situation (such as setting a dog who is afraid of slippery floors onto the middle of the kitchen floor) and preventing that dog from leaving can have long-lasting consequences. While you may have had the best intentions when you followed the advice of the trainer on TV or tried a technique that your coworker swears by, if your dog responded by panicking or shutting down and if you’ve noticed that your dog’s behavior has deteriorated since that time, it’s possible that your dog could be experiencing a canine version of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD.

PTSD is most well-known as a disorder frequently experienced by veterans, but any survivor of trauma may experience the symptoms. Little is known about why some individuals experience symptoms that can range from mild to debilitating while others who were present in the same event can emerge unscathed.

Extreme fear oftentimes results in altered perceptions of the event. Triggers associated with the fearful event do not engage the hippocampus, which is usually responsible for memory, but rather the amygdala, which is responsible for emotions. Strong flashbacks to the original panic state can be instantaneous, and are not under the dog’s conscious control. Just as you’re unable to control the contraction or dilation of your pupils when you feel strong emotions, a dog experiencing Post Traumatic Stress symptoms such as this is absolutely unable to stop feeling the way he does in the moment.

The triggers for this flashback state may not make logical sense. Scents, textures, certain movements, and even the time of day can all trigger this instant fear reaction. While some triggers are easily explained, such as Layla flinching and dropping to the floor the first time I carried a rolled up newspaper into the house or a previous foster dog slinking away if he smelled alcohol on a visitor’s breath, others are less easy to tease apart and may never be completely identified. A foster dog several years ago would occasionally yelp when he was touched, even after soliciting attention, but the vet could find nothing physically wrong and his quick fear reaction never manifested twice when the same area of his body was touched. Another dog that I’m working with right now will begin trembling for no apparent reason several times a week, hiding under the bed and occasionally voiding her bladder in terror. While her owners are keeping diligent notes, they haven’t been able to pinpoint the source of these episodes.

If your dog has a history of trauma, whether suspected or confirmed, here are some guidelines to remember.

1. The dog determines what’s traumatizing, not you. While you may not have thought that holding your dog down for a simple nail trim was that big a deal, your dog may have a different opinion. Watch your dog’s body language for signs of stress such as lip licking, yawning, slower or faster movement, freezing, and turning away so that you can intervene if a situation starts to go south. Pushing through such situations can almost guarantee that they’ll create new fear triggers in many dogs.

2. Create safe places. One of the reasons that mat work is so very helpful for so many dogs is due to its clear structure of safety. By making the mat a positive place where treats, relaxation, and massage take place, we can create a positive conditioned emotional response to the mere presence of this training tool. Once the mat becomes a safe place, make sure to keep it that way. Don’t let anything bad happen to your dog on the mat. You can create other safe spaces as well – places in your dog’s environment where good things happen and where there is no pressure placed on the dog.

3. Give your dog choices. One of the fastest ways to traumatize any mammal is to take away all of his or her choices. Manufacture opportunities for your dog to make choices about his or her environment, schedule, and care as much as possible. Whether you let your dog decide which way to turn at the end of the block, wait for your dog to offer a foot for nail trimming, play with nose work, or give your dog several different beds to choose to sleep on, choice is hugely important. Set your dog up to make good choices, then reward those choices to build the dog’s confidence.

4. Always try to end on a good note. Research has shown that people who experienced identically unpleasant procedures created very different memories of those procedures depending on how traumatic the final moments of the procedure were. While we don’t know whether dogs have the same cognitive recall abilities, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try to make the last few seconds of any unpleasant experience as pleasant as possible. For example, Layla is very concerned about having her feet handled. I file her nails instead of clipping them because this is more comfortable for her, and she is in control of how fast or slow nail trimming sessions go. She is also free to leave at any time if she gets too scared. At the end of every nail-trimming session, I practice simply touching the nail file to her toenails for less than a second, followed by a food reward. Because each session ends with these quick successes, she’s more comfortable allowing me to handle her feet when it comes time for the next session.

5. Your dog is not his story. If your dog has a history of trauma, it’s important to be aware of that past, but equally important to help your dog succeed in the present. Too often, we get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves about our dogs’ pasts, and forget to pay attention to the animal in front of us. While trauma can have lasting consequences due to its huge impact on the way the brain develops and processes information, patient behavioral modification and an environment of safety can have equally powerful effects. See your dog for who he is in the moment, rather than who you expect him to be. He may surprise you.

If your dog has a history of trauma, make sure to read the posts on fearful and brittle dogs for more tips on helping him recover, and please share your stories in the comments below!

116 responses to “5 Tips for Traumatized Dogs

  1. My husband and I rescued our terrier Cole when he was 12 wks from our base shelter. What we were told when we received him was that his previous owners took a weed whacker to him and he had a huge chunk missing out of his side which we had to be careful about. Fast forward and he’s 20 wks now, a loving dog to everyone he meets, but is very jumpy and weird at certain things. He will not bark at all unless he’s playing with our GSD, not even in pain or excitement. He gets hesitant eating his food and it is difficult making him go outside or in his crate. He tends to pee when we sternly scold him and sometimes he flinches when you go to pick him up. Is there anything we can do to help him?

    • I didnt sternly scold my minpin for wees accidents, as its a mistake & mistakes are for learning from. I didn’t raise my voice either, I just said no no not there, & picked her up & showed her the correct place 2 go & she was toilet trained by 4 months old. I got her at 3 months. Also go towards your dog slowly, crouch down & pick her up, doing it quickly may be frightening. You could try a few different positions of picking up & holding. My min pin prefers to be picked up with one hand under her bottom, not under each front leg. I would be especially careful of the missing chunk area. Make sure there’s not other animals near when he’s eating, & if you warm his meat, dont make it too hot. Try a plate, not a bowl, my dog used to get so scared of her tag banging on the bowl, she refused to eat or drink from one. Try sitting next to him & telling him mmm yummy look delicious meat! That reassurance works on mine. She’s also wary at first & will only eat food I give her & no one else. Hope this helps.

  2. This article was excellent!!!! I now know what to do with my brittle & fearful dog!!!! Understanding your dog’s actions makes it a lot easier to help him! Than you very much for helping me!!!!

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  4. Dana Hard Orlandi

    Thank you. I have a young little rescue who had puppies when she was very young and the puppies any get wewe picked up by animal control. She has been with me over a year and if still tranatized.. You gave me some very good ideas.

    • My chi mix Tinkerbell while very loved from birth has had a few big traumas. The worst was having ber sister attacked and killed by a pittbull while staying with my aunt which came two months after her brother passed from parvo. She was 6months. Fast forward 3 years and we were forced to move in with the same aunt and into the same house. Thankfully the pittbull has passed away, but now the house was infested with mice and rats. Thankfully we moved out 5 days ago but at the end the rats were well over ten pounds at least it looked like at as a few were bigger than my apple head chiuahua. By that point I was barricading the door at night and still sometimes the biggest ones would eat their way in. I would sleep with one arm wrapped around Tink and the other wrapped around my two smaller dog with the smaller ones between me and the wall. Tink stayed up all night guarding us and waking me up when an intruder came in. But now that we are safely moved into a brand new home with my mom Tink is still staying up all night guarding us. She checks behind the furniture before coming to bed but still stands on the edge of the bed with my arm keeping her from falling. I want her to feel safe but I don’t know how. I walk the house with her to show her there’s nothing to be afraid of. I have my furniture pulled away from the wall so see can go check herself. But every stray noise and she shakes with fear. My sweet fearless snuggle bug is convinced rats are going to attack us at night. (Only at night. She sleeps during the day just fine.) What else do I do? I want her to feel safe. My other pup is a rescue and she has a special pillow next to mine that she runs to for safety. Does Tink need a special spot?

  5. Dana Hard Orlandi

    Thank you for some important information.

  6. My dog, Dino, was recently hit by a car last friday. He was hit on a street named Custer, which is a very busy street in which cars go 30-40 MPH. He got out of the hospital today but has so much trauma from the experience. Please, if you have any helpful tips or anything you can tell me that will help Dino, please e-mail tbethortiz@gmail.com

  7. Hi, my dog Pooh Bear is a chow chow and we got when he was about 4 months. He was rescued from a puppy mill, and we got him from a rescue place. However, we don’t know what happened at the puppy mill, but a lot of people like the vet and trainers think it’s because of trauma. He gets really frightened of almost anything, mainly his food bowl and water bowl. He’s so scared of it he won’t drink or eat for days.

    • Edit: I also forgot to mention any tips on how we can get him to stop being afraid small stuff like beds, bowls, and other stuff like sudden movements.

      • Sorry, I meant can you give me some tips thank you!

      • dog lover wife

        definitely wash the bowls frequently and ONLY use Stainless Steel all dogs even when when scrub clean the bowls do NOT like Plastic. so sensitive to smell and from warehouse factory,store,to your home to any other animals using it can leave a forever odor in it!!! again, even if its the dishwasher. water leaves a residue you have to wash water bowls to and always rinse well with both. Use a Britta filter for her water – heightened smells can be an issue.
        also, a height adjustment feedstation so the she doesnt have to eat upside down and try to gulp into her mouth helps. everyone should do it for all their animals, height makes a serious and helpful in neck, throat, digestion and eating.
        you can hand feed from the bowl passing it to her and allow her to eat from you like a baby would. they are your babies to and obviously she aching for some help. If she eats outta your hand soon enuf and at her height if she likes the food she next take a bite herself from the bowl. i also have a pet that if i leave the room, no matter how hungry he stops and follows me and lays in the room with me. totally ceasing on food and water.
        they suck up allot of pain and wont show it, so when they do its definitely a issue.. She could be injured, head or neck and it hurts to feed. or possibly a tooth problem, or splinters wedged. will need a vet check. :-(
        if they dislike the smell of anything your feeding they wont eat it. buy good food and read the labels. most have to many fillers ! spent over an hour in the store reading 2 side by side labels of all food. Purina One was the Best at real ingredients at petsmart. just because something costs more doesnt mean its better. chicken and beef are good. duck and turkey have a very extreme scent. most dont like it. chicken, beef and turkey are good – read the labels.
        nothing wrong with hand feeding, your baby will be so weak and dehydrated from not eating and drinking and then to sick and tired to try. nothing is going to work without your help and reading her body language. and all the stores will allow you to return and exchange any cans undamaged. have to be careful how often you change food because that will make them sick. shocking her digestion process.
        *** Summary: Feed quality, stainless steel only (clean frequently), and never leave or feed outside. check for injuries and teeth. Feeding station to her neck and face height.
        She could have a blockage or stomach issue.
        most dogs wont eat without going the bathroom first. No INPUT without OUTPUT first!!! fastest way, great walk outside because of the different smells she should go to the bathroom to leave her mark. and you can take it to the vet, have it checked for worms and all the other stuff, they do in a lab when checking poop.
        its a serious issue is she isnt drinking any water either – dehydration for our lil ones has serious consequences and can shut down her kidneys or cause kidney disease and that may not be reversable and issue for life.
        Put in the time and watch reactions! keep a small diary timetables of all habits, water, food, peeing and pooping. food brands and reactions. very helpful for you or vet. im concerned for overall health !

    • Make sure your dogs tag is not clanging against the bowl, my dog got very frightened of the noise. Try a plate for food & Ive changed her collar to a bandana so the tag can be put toward th back or easily slipped off for mealtimes. Try warm food, not hot & no lactose milk or pet milk warm. The smell induces hunger when the foods warm & warm milk is calming. Try to keep things quiet, loud noises can upset dogs as they have such sensitive hearing. Give lots of cuddles,kisses & reassurance using a soothing tone. If your dog gets really upset & shakes, wrap your dog in a blanket aswel. My dog loves this.

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  9. A couple months ago, I took my dog outside at night to use the restroom before we went to sleep and I noticed he didn’t come back when I called him. I called his name and I didn’t get anything. So I went out and search and nothing. Until I heard him yelping and yelping like I have never before heard. Like screams it was horrible I ran to where the noise was at and saw a man in a truck get out and start defending my dog from .. get this .. three coyotes. I live in a suburb area and never would I guessed coyotes were near by. My dog got a open space and ran home and I mean ran while there was a coyote still after him. I followed him back home trying to keep the coyote from getting him. And we both made it home only I found him just sitting all weak with holes on his body… bite marks. One on both sides of his arm and on his neck. I tried cleaning him up but he would yelp everytime I put pressure. It was the worse and I mean worse day I’ve ever experienced. Even worse my dog is small he’s a mix of a chihuahua and terrier. With careful nursing and care he showed improvement within a few days in about a week he was able to walk pretty normal. And in a month he was running around the yard. Only till now 4 months since the attack every once in a while when he’s asleep he starts shaking even when it’s warm. And begins breathing heavy. And when I give him a little tap he doesn’t move so I know he is deep into a sleep even when I call his name. So I give him a little nudge and move him a little bit so he can wake up. Not often it happens but that day it was traumatizing for me I cannot imagine it how it must be for him. But he’s getting there

  10. need leptospirosis shot, and outdoor vaccines for bite woods and his lifetime.

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  19. My 5wk old puppy got traumatized when a big dog tried to kill her. Until now, she won’t eat, or have a sip of water or milk :( please help me how to help my puppy :'(

  20. My 7 months old boxer fell from building and broke his both legs.we had to pin one of his legs. First few day were not bad but problem started after second visit to the vet. He became more aggressive started biting . And movement of legs increased trying to stand up and cry .we are helpless

    • I would personally ring your vet and tell them that, your dog may need more pain releif, anti flam & another check. Your dogs biting cz he’s in pain, so another thing to asess is what bed he’s in, a hammock bed is best for a sore dog as its off the ground working with gravity not against it.The pet shops sell them. He may need physio therapy once some of the healing is done, there’s some places that put dog vests on & swim with the dog & there’s a treatment called canine myo therapy, which is a combo of massage & physio. I learnt how to do it from a book, & my dogs leg healed really quick. She went from not being able to walk to running in 4 weeks. It gets the circulation going, so is the equivelent to a walk, which he cant do,good circulation aids healing. Dont do a session more than every 12 days as it keeps working after. google will have more info.

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  22. The tips for traumatized dogs was very helpful. I have a Boxer vthst is very fearful. She was about 7 months old when I adopted her from the shelter. About 18 months ago and again last year she and my other dog got attacked through the fence by some neighbor dogs. So she is fearful and aggressive with other dogs. She hates Golden Retrevirer. I think she may have had an unpleasant encounter with a Golden Retrevirer before I adopted her. The other I had her in a Pet store. She seemed slightly anxious but ok. Then a big dog barked and she became very frightened. We went into the training room and into the crate. That seemed to make her feel more comfortable.

  23. The tips for traumatized dogs was very helpful. I have a Boxer vthst is very fearful. She was about 7 months old when I adopted her from the shelter. About 18 months ago and again last year she and my other dog got attacked through the fence by some neighbor dogs. So she is fearful and aggressive with other dogs. She hates Golden Retrevirer. I think she may have had an unpleasant encounter with a Golden Retrevirer before I adopted her. The other I had her in a Pet store. She seemed slightly anxious but ok. Then a big dog barked and she became very frightened. We went into the training room and into the crate. That seemed to make her feel more comfortable.

  24. Kimberley Dent

    My son has 2 well behaved dogs that have had training and he continues to train and work with. I have a four year old springer spaniel I have had from infancy who is fearful of everything and everyone he meets. I fear if not carefully contained he will bite someday soon . My son has offered to take and work with hum for a month but my husband thinks this is a bad idea while I welcome it . What do you advise?

    • Im not going to decide for you but I noticed that you said your dogs fearful and then that you are fearful. I wonder if their is a link there. Maybe a cycle where his fear & your fear are feeding off each other. Im not sure why youre afraid he’l bite, I know I was told the two are linked, but not always. I would like you to get someone to help you with your dog, so that you can build confidence, in yourself, with leading your dog, with trusting yourself & your dog. Some of this might be analyzing & confronting where this fear came from, & learning how to handle a situation & reading your dogs signals & cues. They usually give warnings before bites. The problem with your son taking him is that your dog might be better off staying with him permanently if you do that. Otherwise he still might only improve for him & be the same with you on returning. He may be picking up on your fear, be feeling insecure & vice versa. I would urge you to see this as a learning opportunity for you & your dog. If possible.

  25. My chihuahua survived a coyote attack almost three years ago. Her fear of going outside is mostly gone, but she is still scared of dogs bigger than her; for all she knows they’re just more cayotes. This effects her walks, since more than half my neighborhood owns at least one dog. I often lift her up when we see one, but I’m not sure if that helps or makes things worse

  26. We adopted our pitbull Amber 2 years ago. We don’t know much about her past other than she was abandoned and left to fend for herself. The local animal shelter picked her up on the street one day. A sweeter dog we could not have asked for. I have no formal dog training but I have common sense and pay attention to her cues. She gets anxious when more than one person pets her at a time, so we don’t. She gets really anxious and defensive whenever a stranger approaches her with arms/hands raised, so we tell people not to. She doesn’t like blankets over her but loves blankets under her, so we don’t go over but she has plenty to lay on top of. She’s really smart, motivated by food and attention so she gets treats and high praise as rewards. She learns fast. That’s just a bonus. And most importantly she loves us, has brought so much joy and happiness to our family, so she gets the same from us. We love you Amber!!!

  27. I recently rescued an English Setter she is 3 be 4 in Dec. Ripley has issues; she is horribly afriad of walking thru doorways in or out (I have to carry her) I akso had to have the tip of her tail amputated it appeared it had been burned (not sure) b u t it was black and crusty; lastly she is afraid to go outside by herself I have to be right next to her at all times. Ripley is loving but very insecure but shes mine I want to help her and don’t know how.

  28. I’m going to follow your blog as a fellow
    Wordpresser … my dog has been traumatised by a person living nearby. She’s still sweet loving & liked by so many! Get on with kids/dogs & humans but too scared to go out 😩 xxx

  29. My dog got traumatized when had a car accident, we are lucky that we are all still alive. My dog Pancho have a therapy to his exotic pet vet and after several sessions, he is okay now. Thank you to his vet. Please refer to this link: https://westminsterveterinarygroup.com/

  30. Pamela.. I think your dogs tail was caught in a door. Hence the injury and fear. Ensure you watch door entries and exits carefully and talk your dog through it. Stand tall and talk strongly. Don’t baby talk your dog through what was an horrendous experience. Dogs need a leader in order to trust.

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  33. I’m still so surprised, i can’t believe this, i just got a loan of $80,000 from Mr.Fisher Moore and nothing like upfront fee, is as if i’m dreaming, but no its reality, i’m so happy right now, and not only that i just got engaged on friday, I’m full of happiness now, you can contact him now elijahcapitals@gmail.com

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  35. I,rescue my dog from abusive people,and I’m trying to Patty traing,her to usted the pads inside my apartment incased,,I have to go to the hospital and stay. She has been so traumatized that for no reason she just wount,used the pads…one, day I truly had to go to the hospital and I went in the morning at 5:00 a:m in the morning I was hopping and praying that I woulnt,had to go. But I was feeling really sick.I dint,wanted to go caused I know, that my Loving dog wouldn,go until I was back home. When I came back surely like I thought and fear of her not going. I got so scared cause she didn’t go at all.i put my purse in the table and got her leash and fast I look her outside to go. That’s why I want to know how to trained her to used the pads inside my apartment. I Love her so much that I’m so scared to go to the hospital….please send me some feed back on how to trained her. She is like around 7yrs old. I would appreciated your feed back. Thank you so much. My dogs name is Joe Sammy. I’m Mari. My cell is 915 803 4501. God Bless you. Sincerely Mari

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  37. My Maddie was traumatized at the banfield hospital at petsmart . Doctor freaked when she tried to get t near my Maddie was trying to bite her I believe this would have never happen if they would have treated her with more tlc and some treats. My Maddie had been traumatized all day.

    • Dr. Jeffrey D LaBarrett

      Hello Cheryl. Unfortunately for you and furbaby Maddie, there are even professional veterinary personnel that have no idea of how to move toward or handle an animal that might be fearful or anxious. Bring this matter to not only the store manager, but also get the corporate phone number so that you can inform their main offices as well.

  38. Lawrence J Clark

    To whom it may concern;
    My wife and I adopted a dog.
    Before we received the dog…he was kept in a crate for four years. The dog escaped and while doing this a piece of wire went into his right eye. The people that rescued him found him wandering in an Arby restaurant parking lot.
    We have had him for almost a year
    We have loved him and give him plenty of safe areas.
    He comes to us and wants us to pick him up.
    When we do sometimes he grows. So we put him back on the floor.
    Then other times he is very loving.
    We pick him up and place him on the couch or bed with us and all of a sudden he will snap at us. Then sometimes he want.
    So we do not know what to do.
    I understand about P.T.S.D. I served twenty years in the U S Army and one war.
    My wife has had rescued dogs, cats, and horses.
    We would really appreciate your help.
    Thank you

    • Jeffrey.labarrett@gmail.com

      Stay patient with your four footed friend. Quite possibly his visual impairment has much to do wm the occasional snapping and growling sounds. My rescue giant schnauzer, having no vision problems at all would not allow me to stroke or touch his front legs for over a year’s time. Taking small gradual steps in letting him know he was safe with any touch took lots of time. Today, he’s pretty well beyond the snapping and pulling away but still may growl.

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  40. Last night one of my roommates lost it and pulled a gun on the other roommate and emptied the clip in the house. Nobody was hurt but both of their dogs were in the middle of it all. They are both traumatized but one more so than the other. What can I do to help him? His papa is in jail and won’t be back ever. The dog is suffering horribly. Please help.

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  42. Hi there. My fiancé and I just rescued a 3yo syberian husky from the shelter. This is the most scared and traumatized dog I’ve ever met. He’s so afraid of cars passing by. Won’t leave our drive way for walks. He’s afraid of any loud noise including me putting a new bag on the trash can liner. He pulls on walking on a leash and he already bit and broke skin very badly on my bf he had to get stitches.
    We’ve tried medication alprazolam and Prozac per vets request.
    At this point we’re ready to take him back as today he almost bit me this time. He never showed this behavior towards me.

  43. I had a horrible house fire and my dog was in his crate when it happened. He survived and is physically fine but he is scared of his crate now. I have been trying to reintroduce him to it and have left him in it for short periods but now he is acting out when he is let out. Last night he intentionally peed on my arm. Today, when I left him with my dog sitter and dear friend, he peed 3 places in her house and growled at her. He has never done that before. How can I help him? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Deeply concerned

  44. Desiree Dombrowski

    My dog is 2 years old and he got hit by a bumper of a car but only walked away with 3 little scraps and a sprain leg but he is now to scared to go outside he will run back in the house and hide what is the best thing to do to get him reuse to going outside again

  45. My dog is a 5 year old Pit and Bull terrier mix. She was rescued in September last year because the owners surrendered her to the shelter. From what we know, the male dog she lived with constantly tried to have sex with her and she wasn’t having it. This led to the dogs fighting for at least a year. The shelter mentioned she is good with group walks, but once the foster home took her she showed signs of anxiety around other dogs. We have put her through training for several months, and have tried other anxiety relieving methods. Most of the professionals we talk with mentioned she might have PTSD in the way she reacts to other dogs. Whenever I walk with her, I try not to focus on other dogs and not care so she doesn’t react off of what I react to…similar to horses(i think). She has gotten better to the fact I can go on a 30 minute walk without too much. But recently she had an encounter that triggered it again. She would start to hyperventilate, disrupting her breathing, tense up, and go defensive because she thinks every dog is trying to kill her/hurt her. I try to distract her as much as a can to give her a different choice, but I’m thinking after all the work I’ve done with her it’s more mental.

    What would you suggest I do? I’m at a loss, and all I want is the mental stability for my dog. I hate seeing her struggle all the time.

  46. Pamela Purcell

    I got a chihuahua from the shelter. She is 7 months old. She is crazy. She runs from every one and eveothing. I can’t pick her up at all. She bites me so much. It’s just her and I. I’ve tired so hard with her. I’ve had her about a month now. She is a trauma dog. Idk what has happened to her. I’m ready to give her back I’m so frustrated. Can u help?

  47. My Sam, nobody really is for sure on where he came from or what his breed is exactly. I got him from a shelter in 2016. They told us that he’d been abandoned by a river – the vets had to cut a harness off him that he’d grown into and he’d been hit by a car. They believe he was abused and when I first got him – he HATED men. There are some things that we weren’t told or they might not have known about. Sam has scars all over, he’s blind in one eye, has nerve damage in his legs so they shake at times. He also gets anxious if he’s left alone for any period of time and he will dig on things until he bleeds. It took a lot of love and encouragement and tons of patience but he gets along with the cats, takes naps with them, he thinks my stepdad and my brother are pillows meant for his enjoyment. He doesn’t cower at raised voices anymore. There are some things that he apparently can’t get past. I used to light candles – I can’t do that anymore, the fire or the smell of things burning terrifies him. Our vet found marks on one of his paws that he thinks are burns of some kind. He’s a very affectionate baby. He gets up when I do, gets dressed in his own t-shirt from his own wardrobe – or rather I dress him when I get up. The shirts help with easing his anxiety and he’s never alone – either a person or an animal is always with him.
    Some things, I think a dog that’s been through the ringer can maybe move past but some things they can’t. Sam is very protective of me – he doesn’t like strange males coming around me but he’ll tolerate friends and family. He can’t stand burning things – he literally cries, yelps and whines and goes in a corner.

  48. I got my rescue dog just over 2yrs ago, she’s a 7yrold shitzu cross terrier and for some reason she gets really anxious, cries and shakes, I even rescued another dog to keep her company, and that didn’t work they get on ok, I never leave them for very long but when I return it’s as if I’ve been out of the house for hours on end and she jumps up at me and nearly knocks me over, I was hoping that you could give me some suggestions, the only reason she’s not neutered is because I know what she’ll be like when I have to leave her, and this upsets me, I don’t know anything about her background, it’s just like trial and error, hopefully you can help thankyou Annette x

  49. Pingback: Dog behaviors of Traumatized Dogs | Dog Behaviors

  50. I have 2 liter-mates that are 14 months old. They are both rescues. One is deaf and the other can hear. The deaf one, although it takes a few minutes, will warm up to people and let them pet her. The other one is terrified of everything. It took her a full month to finally react positively to me and run up to me. She is afraid of my husband and afraid of loud noises. I’m guessing there was a male figure in her puppy days that just scared her to death. She is the sweetest doll when her real personality comes out and we just love her and love on her. We have tried having my husband greet her with treats, he talks to her sweetly, he tries really hard to not make sudden moves or to be loud. We have had her just over two months and although she’s not quite as terrified as she was two months ago, she is still terrified. She has a safe place on the couch (the corner section of a sectional) and a safe bed in our room that she will willingly go to, but will still stare at my husband with the deer in the headlights look on her face. I’m hoping at some point she will warm up to my husband, but I’m just at a loss of what to do to help her realize we just want her to be loved. We have a total of 4 dogs, 3 of them interact positively with my husband (including the deaf one). I would think seeing that would help her let her guard down a little, but it doesn’t. If she is in the living room and my husband walks in, she bolts for the doggie door and won’t come back in until I go out to get her. If you know of any magic trick that will help her, I would really appreciate knowing what it is.

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