How to Train an Abused Dog

An abused dog needs lots of love and patience.

An abused dog needs lots of love and patience.

A history of abuse can make your dog skittish, difficult to train and even aggressive. Abused dogs thrive with reward-based training methods and patient trainers. With time, love and lots of treats, you can help your abused dog become a well-trained, well-socialized member of your family.

Socialize your dog to people and other dogs. Abused dogs are often fearful of new people and animals, and this fear can lead to aggression without proper socialization. Expose your dog to a variety of friendly, gentle people and animals, and click the training clicker and give your dog a treat every time she meets someone new. Then encourage other people to begin giving your dog treats. This teaches her to associate new experiences with positive feelings and being rewarded.

Teach your dog to walk on a leash. Encourage her to walk close to you without pulling by holding a treat down to your side and occasionally giving her a treat for staying close by. If your dog pulls on the leash, stop walking immediately. This teaches her that pulling slows the walk down.

Teach your dog basic commands by saying the command when she spontaneously performs the action, then clicking the training clicker and giving her a treat. For example, if your dog sits, say, "Sit!" then click the training clicker and give her a treat. This helps her to associate words with their actions. Then begin to give her the commands and reward her with the training clicker and treat when she follows them.

Items you will need

  • Leash
  • Collar
  • Training clicker
  • Dog treats


  • Yelling is an ineffective training strategy for any dog, but is especially damaging to abused dogs.
  • Provide your dog with plenty of exercise. Exercise requirements vary from breed to breed, but most dogs need a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise daily. Exercise can reduce anxiety and improve behavior.

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About the Author

Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.

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