6 Common Signs Of Emotional Abuse In Dogs


Last Updated on June 30, 2020

© Wide Open Pets

Animal abuse is one of the major concerns of modern society. In most developed countries, groups of animal rights activists and government entities are making increasing efforts to raise awareness on this topic and reduce the number of animal rights violations.

Unfortunately, physical and emotional abuse in pets is still a reality, and there’s still a long way to go. There are some personality and behavioral traits that can readily reveal an abused dog.

However, identifying a pet dog that is still emotionally suffering from its traumatic and dreary past is something that is not always that easy to do.

If you have recently adopted a dog from a shelter and you want to know whether or not they have been abused in the past, you can watch for these warning signs that you need to look after. Here are x common warning signs of abuse in dogs.

Remember that you need to be patient and caring because your pet will need special support to overcome that trauma and finally become a healthy and happy dog.

1. Separation Anxiety

If your dog gets a little sad when you leave home for work in the morning and extremely excited when you come back home at the end of the day, he is just a normal dog who loves you deeply.

However, if he gets overly distressed every time you leave him alone at home, so much that he destroys pieces of furniture, scratches the front door, barks excessively, and urinates around the house, we have some bad news.

This behavior is typical in dogs suffering from separation anxiety, a condition that experts believe to affect roughly 15% of dogs. One of the main causes of this specific form of anxiety is precisely related to past traumas.

That’s why it is so common amongst dogs who have been abandoned or had to move houses several times. If nothing is done to manage this situation, separation anxiety may lead to depression in dogs.

2. Aggressive Behavior

Dogs who were abused tend to be very hostile towards strangers, and may even become overly aggressive for no apparent reason, especially if they were physically abused by other humans in a very obvious manner.

In such cases, dog owners must be very careful so that the dog does not feel threatened enough to attack the stranger.

There is also another particular form of aggressive behavior called food aggression. It occurs when the dog starts aggressively protecting his food and dog treats. It is usually a sign that the dog used to be neglected and fed irregularly (or even starved) for extended periods.

Signs of food aggression include rapid eating, refusing to move away from the food bowl no matter what, growling when approached, and snapping at anything or anyone that tries to move or approach the food bowl.

3. Repetitive And Obsessive Behaviors

Although weird and repetitive behaviors such as digging holes, hoarding shoes, rolling around, or spinning in circles seem odd to most pet owners, they often don’t think much of it. That might turn out to be a huge mistake.

Compulsive abnormal behaviors may occur in perfectly healthy and joyful dogs when they are dealing with a stressful situation, sure. But these behaviors are far more common in abused dogs, so they can be a warning sign of previously experienced anxiety.

4. Antisocial Behavior

Dogs who have not been properly loved and cared for from an early age can become antisocial. That’s right. Puppies need to interact with other people besides their primary caregiver while still young so that they become comfortable around strangers later in life.

Abused dogs usually haven’t had the opportunity to interact with many people, so they probably won’t trust strangers and may even become highly stressed when meeting new people. Antisocial behavior might turn into aggressive behavior fast.

5. Fear Of Other Dogs

Many veterinarians believe that dogs who have an exaggerated and irrational fear of other dogs may have been mistreated and abused in the past. If that’s the case, this other form of antisocial behavior probably is due to the presence of other dogs during the abusive acts.

Signs of fear in dogs include barking, excessive panting, pacing, clinging, hiding, lip licking, flattened ears, avoiding eye contact, and tail tucked between the hind legs.

Dealing with a scared dog can be extremely difficult. It will require a lot of perseverance during the rehabilitation process, and you will have to re-educate the dog to get used to the presence of other dogs.

Once again, keep in mind that if your dog used to live in a shelter, he probably lacks proper socialization.

6. Being Very Submissive

Some dog breeds are dominant, while others are more submissive. That is simply a natural tendency. However, some dogs that have been mistreated end up developing a highly submissive personality caused by trauma.

Signs of an overly submissive dog include lying down while urinating, cowering, and rolling over with the tail tucked. If you realize that your dog is exhibiting these types of behavior, you must proactively start working to restore his confidence.

How To Care For An Abused Dog?

As a pet parent, one of your top priorities should be your dog’s health and emotional state. Just like humans, dogs also need to have both a healthy body and mind. These two things are inextricably linked.

It is time to help your dog get over emotional abuse. To do so, you should discuss your concerns with a veterinarian. As an expert, he will know exactly the type of treatment your dog needs. The most important thing is that your dog can fully trust you.

There are several dog training and bonding techniques that can help your dog feel confident, needed, loved, and protected again. In some severe cases, medication might be required to help manage the dog’s anxiety.