Gaining the Trust of An Abandoned Puppy

A puppy abandoned by an owner may very well have significant trust issues with humans, at least initially. Adopting such a puppy requires a commitment to providing love and care with patience to build a basis of trust. Plan to spend a good amount of time acclimating your puppy to his new home to help him feel welcome and safe.


Tip #1 - Prepare your home before the puppy arrives to ensure you can devote your full time and attention to him as he explores his new surroundings. Have a bed, kennel and toys in place. If other pets are in the home, give the puppy his own room for the first few days to help him get accustomed to the sounds and smells of your house, and bring a blanket that smells of him out for the other pets to sniff. This will make the transition much smoother.

Tip #2 - Be available to the puppy. Set aside time to sit quietly with your puppy and allow him to become comfortable in your presence. If he initiates play, follow his lead; don't force activity if he shies away, though. Talk quietly and calmly to the puppy to reassure him he is in a safe place. Offer a hand and let him come to you. Provide as much hands-on contact as he is comfortable with to get him used to your smell and more secure.

Tip #3 - Feed your puppy personally. An abandoned puppy, particularly one who was on the streets or in a shelter, probably has not had an adequate nutritious food supply during his short life. Provide your puppy a vet-recommended, age-appropriate dog food. Initially, stay in the puppy's presence while he eats. This will help him establish a bond of trust as he begins to associate you with food, shelter and love. Attempt feeding the puppy by hand if he is receptive. This will establish a lasting bond.

Tip #4 - Establish a routine. Feed, exercise and play with your puppy at the same times each day, and work him into the existing rhythm of your household. This will begin to lay the foundation for a stable life. If your formerly abandoned pup hasn't shown improvement already, the regular schedule you share will eventually secure his trust if only passively.

Warning: Never yell at your puppy, hit him or force him to be affectionate with you. While age-appropriate training is a good way to build trust and establish expectations, proper training requires positive reinforcement and no physical reprimands.

By Lisa McQuerrey

About the Author
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.