While most of us love our four-legged friends, sadly, there are cases where dogs can be in abusive situations. Dogs are very intelligent and sensitive creatures and when they are put through this sort of abuse, it clearly reflects on the way they act and feel.
Anyone that has ever seen an abused dog can instantly see how their actions and behaviors differ from a normal dog. They will generally be cowering or aggressive, fearful and distrustful, and reluctant to let anyone near or let a person touch them. Thankfully, most do learn to love and trust again. However, can dogs actually fake being abused?
Signs of Abuse in Dogs
There are some humans that have faked being abused for one reason or another. This could be out of spite against someone else, to gain sympathy, or for various other reasons. Of course, this is a dreadful thing to do, as it impacts on all those people that do actually go through abuse. However, the reason why some humans fake abused is that they want to achieve something through it.
Dogs do not have this type of reasoning where they want to get someone into trouble or gain sympathy. They don’t even know what the term abused means – all they know is that when someone acts in a certain way toward them it makes them feel scared or in pain.
Dogs cannot fake being abused because it is not in their nature. They react to what happens to them, so if they are in a happy household with people that show them love and attention, this will reflect in their actions and behavior. Some of the signs that dogs may show if they are being abused include cowering, fear, snapping, bared teeth, and reluctance to let anyone near them. However, this is not the type of actions a dog would fake.
If a dog is actually being abused, you will be able to see it in the body language that it displays. Some of the body language you may see in an abused dog is shivering and cowering, sitting or standing against walls with its back to people, snapping if you put your hand near it, tightly tucking their tail, putting their ears down, and clear signs of distress.
In addition, some abused dogs become aggressive, so you may find that the dog snaps and snarls at you or bares its teeth. Again, this type of body language is not something that a dog will fake.
- Ears drop
- Tail tucking
- Exposed teeth
More signs to watch for are:
- Reluctance to come near a particular person
- Sitting with its back to people
- Shying away from being touched
- Acting meekly
History of Dogs and Abuse
Sadly, dogs have faced abuse throughout history in the same way as other animals and humans. Of course, over recent decades, dogs have become beloved household pets rather than simply being working animals as they once were. This makes it all the more difficult for any animal lover to think of a dog being abused. While dogs can fake a lot of things such as being tired or even being asleep, things such as fear, aggression, and distrust are emotions that can only come naturally to them. This means that they cannot fake them in the same ways that humans often can.
Of course, some people may say – well what about acting dogs that are taught to act in this way? Well, dogs that appear in movies and on TV acting as abused dogs go through a lot of training in order to learn how to act in this or any other way. However, the everyday pooch that you bump into is not going to have received this training.
We know from studies of dog behavior over the years that when a dog shows signs of being abused, then it has probably been abused. However, you cannot rule out the fact that some of the signs of abuse can also be signs of other things rather than abuse.
The Science Behind Dogs Not Faking Abuse
So, why do dogs act in a certain way after being abused and why can they not fake this emotion? Well, the type of behavior that a dog displays when it is abused is raw emotion and stems from the way it is being treated.
If a dog is being treated with love and kindness, it will not cower around the person that showers it with that affection or show other signs of abuse. However, when it is in fear because of past treatment, these emotions are displayed automatically just as they are in many humans when they have been victims of abuse.
Helping an Abused Dog
One thing to remember is that you cannot assume that a dog is being abused right away if it shows certain signs that are consistent with abuse. For instance, if you see a dog limping along with its owner, you cannot simply assume that the dog has been abused because it may have been injured in some other way and this may be nothing to do with the owner.
Likewise, if you see a dog that acts aggressively toward people, this does not automatically mean that the dog has been abused nor does it mean that the dog is faking aggression. Some dogs are naturally aggressive in certain situations or with certain people for other reasons than abuse.
Some dogs have been abused in the past but have been brought into a loving home since that time. However, because of the trauma that the dog has faced in the past, it may still show signs of abuse in certain situations because dogs retain these memories. It is very difficult for dog lovers not to take action right away if they feel that a dog is being abused. Keep in mind that while dogs are not able to fake abuse in the way that humans can, the signs may be due to some other reason or because of past trauma that they have been through.
If you feel that a dog is being abused due to the signs that it shows, it is important not to ignore it. However, you should make sure you go through the proper channels rather than trying to take matters into your own hands. Of course, if you know the owner of the dog, you can speak to them about the dog’s reactions and behavior, but if you don’t know them, it is important to ensure you go through the relevant authorities so that the situation can be investigated.
How to React if You Think a Dog is Being Abused:
Always go through relevant authorities if necessary.
Monitor the situation if you know the owner.
Don't assume that a dog is being abused from its actions.