It may be hard to make an abused dog ready to trust humans again, but there are training games that can bring back their confidence and hopefully, make them trusting again. It wounds my soul deeply knowing that there are people who are capable of hurting innocent animals, especially our four-legged, furry friends.
Let me share a story about a wonderful pit bull named BB. A good friend of mine, Beth, rescued BB from a closet. His previous owners were drug dealers who locked, abused, and beaten him as he served as their guard dog. He was not even a year old, but the amount of trauma he experienced from these cruel people were heartbreaking.
Beth and her family gave BB all the love and support he deserves. He could have turned into a vicious dog, but the loving treatment he gets from his new owners are enough for his life to turn around
Now, he is the most gentle and the most good-natured dog you will ever find. They’re not kidding — all those dog quotes online that says pit bulls are violent because they will pounce on anyone and smother them with kisses. Aside from the skin allergies BB is currently suffering from, he’s very healthy and well-taken care of; you wouldn’t even guessed how much he suffered in the past.
3 Training Games to Boost an Abused Dog’s Confidence
That story speaks about how a simple act of kindness and compassion can change an abused dog’s life completely. It is something we can also apply to people not just animals. A big part of this dog’s recovery can also be attributed to constantly engaging them with confidence-boosting training games.
Love and kindness must always be present in these training games. You can employ ordinary games with them, as long you remain gentle and calm in your treatment.
This game aims to help the dog associate their names to positive things instead of cruelty or anger. It’s best to start with this game until they get used to it and be ready to more complex training. While doing this, try not to look them in the eyes. Dogs, especially abused ones, are not so fond of eye contact. They see it as threatening and they may react with fear or they might try to fight back.
Call their names using a tone that signifies gentleness or appreciation. As if you’re rewarding them for being a good boy/girl. If he recognizes you calling them, give them a treat. If they react by moving their ears or eyebrows, give them a treat.
Hide and Seek Game
Dogs have a natural instinct to hunt, and it’s a good thing to encourage this ability. It’s a simple game, which you can play indoors. Just have a treat or his favorite toy hidden somewhere. First you have to show them you have it, but not where you are about to hide it. Since an abused dog does not always act like normal dogs, they might not understand, at first, what you’re trying to make him do.
You have to give them a go signal that it’s okay for them to hunt for their treats. Show them one, and then try to hide it nearby. They’ll eventually get what you’re trying to show them. Then, you hide the subsequent treats to trickier places.
Tug-a-War Game Where They Always Win
Cooper was 6 months old when his owner, Stefan got him. He grew up in a tiny cage with 10 other puppies, fighting for food to survive. Stefan was initially adamant to try a tugging game with him since he was exhibiting extreme shyness. He could even start a “fetch” game with his dog because his other beloved German shepherd kept ambushing and snatching the ball.
Then just a stroke of luck, Stefan took a fleece rope and caught his dog’s eye glisten when he saw it. Stefan found out how much his dog loves the game. Every time Cooper wins, he would stand confidently as if he’s the king of the world. This made him curious of participating in other games too. He even started competing with Stefan’s other dog, Tasha in fetch games. However, it is still important to assert dominance by taking the rope at the end of each round, putting it up, showing him that Stefan are still the leader of the pack.
Aside from these three games, it would also be helpful to consult a veterinarian and consider enrolling your furry best friend in an obedience class that is customized to cater on abused dogs.
There are many things to do to help a mistreated dog recover. I hope you don’t stop looking for ways on how to make them more confident and trusting. Don’t forget that the most important part of this journey is showing them how much you love and cherish them.