Abandoned puppies often lack the fundamental skills learned during the first few weeks of life. Littermates teach each other hierarchy and confidence, and abandoned puppies may have trouble understanding how to behave. Building trust isn’t impossible, but it takes time, patience and love.
Establish a routine and stick to it. Most dogs are quick learners, and a routine helps the dog feel secure. Feed him at the same time, take him out for potty breaks at the same time and schedule training session at the same time to give the dog a feeling of consistency and safety.
Feed the dog a high-quality dog food. Abandoned puppies have to hunt for their meals, and having a consistent source of good food will help the puppy build trust. Look for a low-grain or grain-free kibble with whole meat in the top five ingredients.
Create a sanctuary for your puppy. Abandoned dogs drift from place to place with no sense of security, and giving a puppy a place of his own will make him feel safe. Place a crate in a quiet room and pad the crate with a plush dog bed. Leave the door open so he can go inside if he becomes anxious or scared.
Give the dog plenty of toys. Confident dogs are more likely to trust you, and play is an important part of building confidence. If the dog brings you a toy, throw it for him. If he tugs on a toy, pull back for a few seconds and then let go to give him a sense of victory.
Reward the puppy with treats throughout the day. Crouch down to the dog’s level and hold a treat in your hand. Call the dog and give him the treat as soon as he is within range. Tell him “good puppy” and praise him for coming to you. He will learn that coming when called is a good thing and will eagerly come when he hears his name.
- Be patient with abandoned puppies. Some are quick to rebuild trust, while others may take weeks or months before they feel comfortable in their new homes.
- Never hit or yell at your dog. Many abandoned dogs have been abused, and even one negative incident can undo months of training.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.