So, you just rescued a dog (yay!) but the story the shelter gave you is heartbreaking.
It doesn’t matter what the story is! Your dog won’t live in the past unless you do. Dogs have an amazing ability to live moment to moment – and yet still remember the important stuff (like when dinner time is!). The only time they get stuck in the past is when their humans feel bad for them because of what happened, or they don’t want to discipline their dog because they were “abused”, or feel sorry for them for any number of other reasons.
Does a criminal get special treatment because they had a bad childhood? No.
A prime example is my dobie, Willow. She was used as a puppy factory in a puppymill in a previous home, and has been bounced around a bit after that. If I had refused to provide rules and structure she would not have made the progress she’s made so far.
Even though we still have issues to work on, like her fear of hissing noises and thunder, she’s overcome her intense fear of men. Merlin and a lot of treats helped her out with that!
She has come from shying away every time to actually nudging their hand for them to pet her.
She didn’t learn to trust because I felt sorry for her, she learned to deal because I told her it didn’t matter – I was going to keep her safe.
So remember, if your dog has had a rough past, the best thing you can do for him is to give him rules to live by, structure to follow and guidance to learn from.