Animal abuse is a worldwide problem . There is limited research to understand the effects on the physical, psychological and behavioural characteristics of these animals . According to a small number of researchers , the clinical criteria for determining the occurrence of animal neglect and abuse is almost non-existent, especially with regard to recognizing behavioural signs of abuse. Some studies have attempted to identify the potential behavioural and psychological effects of known physically abused dogs . Aggression is known to be one of the behavioural signs of dog abuse. Dog behavioural training has been seen to help eliminate and/or reduce the occurrence of abuse related behaviour.
Nutrition along with behavioural training is supported to help improve with behavioural issues. It is important to look at some behavioural and psychological differences between abused and non-abused dogs.
CASES OF ABUSE
Dogs can be physically abused in numerous ways and according to a study done by McMillan et al. (2014) , some of the abuse faced by dogs included being kicked and beaten, shot with pellets, shot with a gun, used as bait for other fighting dogs and being stabbed. The table provides further descriptions of some of the inhumane types of abuse that dogs were subjected to prior to being taken away from their abusers.
Abuse Faced by Some of the Dogs in the Behavioural Study 
|Breed||Description of Abuse|
|Yellow Labrador mix||Locked in room without food and water. Left in its urine and faeces then thrown in shower on high heat to scold for being dirty.|
|Labrador Retriever||Beaten, shot in hindquarters.|
|Australian Kelpie||Verbal and physical abuse.|
|Cocker spaniel||Beaten by kids with a stick, needing several stitches.|
|Labrador retriever mix||Dragged by tail, kicked, swung around by its ears.|
|Labrador Retriever and Pit Bull mix||Abandoned, tied to a tree, starved.|
Many dogs are faced with similar and worse abuse such as these every day and it appears in most cases the abuse is not reported. No animal should be treated in such a way and there is no excuse. If you see something, then say something. Ignoring the issue won’t help the dog or animal.
CHARACTERISTICS OF AN ABUSED DOG
The behavioural studies conducted by researchers found significant differences between abused and non-abused dogs. Abused dogs were more excitable, showed increased attachment and displayed significantly more attention seeking behaviours, than those who weren’t abused . Abused dogs displayed more aggression and fear towards humans and other dogs that they weren’t familiar with . They were more likely to roll around in faeces, be more hyperactive and have a greater fear of walking up stairs. The abused dogs displayed more persistent barking and more frequent strange, repetitive behaviour. Examples of such behaviour included excessive digging of holes, hoarding shoes, spinning in circles and excessive sucking on pillows . One prominent finding of the study was the high levels of fear observed in abused dogs. Fear levels increased significantly when encountering unfamiliar people and towards other dogs, when compared to non-abused dogs . Several researchers noted that poor treatment in the form of social isolation or abandonment by the caregiver seemed to intensify the attachment of companion dogs to the caregiver and could lead to separation-related emotional distress issues in adulthood . This separation anxiety behaviour is like to that seen in rescued, shelter obtained, abandoned, and re-homed dogs, which are at higher risk of having the behaviour compared to those which came from a more stable, abuse free home .
The unpleasant behaviours of most abused dogs increases their risk for shelter relinquishment and euthanasia. The potential impact of physical abuse may have detrimental effects on the dog’s health and can manifest as changes in its behaviour. “Musculoskeletal injuries from abuse could cause pain and be a source of pain-induced aggression” . Brain damage can also change a dog’s behaviour .
NUTRITION & BEHAVIOURAL TRAINING
Hiring a dog behaviourist can help your dog break some of its behavioural problems such as separation anxiety, aggression and reactivity. Seek a behaviourist who doesn’t use any forceful or punishing methods, as these could trigger your dog. Qualified behaviourists can address many of the issues that abused dogs are prone to such as anxieties, aggression (towards people and dogs), barking (aggressive, distress barking), repetitive and compulsive behaviours, hyperactivity and phobias .
How can nutrition help your dog while it is being trained by the animal behaviourist? Many veterinary and behavioural experts have questioned the impact of processed, chemical, toxin heavy or dyed commercial dog foods have on the overall health and behaviour of animals .
The use of unusual protein sources is thought to be directly and indirectly involved in disrupting the pathological pathways, which can lead to reduced health, modified behaviour and/or stress related problems . The two main neurotransmitters associated with behaviour are dopamine and serotonin. Studies have shown that the brain’s tryptophan to serotonin metabolism affects how humans and animals feel (happy, sad, depressed) . Serotonin helps to control moods while dopamine is essential for cognitive functions and controls hyperactivity, among other functions. Providing your dog with foods and treats that are high in tryptophan will help to boost its serotonin levels, while foods high in tyrosine will help boost its dopamine levels. Adequate levels of these neurotransmitters will help to prevent neurological imbalances and help your animal to be calmer.
Foods to Help Balance Your Dog’s Hormones and Help Them Calm Down
Foods that boost serotonin levels (high tryptophan content) include:
- Egg yolk (rich in tryptophan, tyrosine, choline, biotin, omega-3 fatty acids)
- Nuts and seeds
- Spinach 
Foods that boost dopamine levels (high tyrosine levels) include:
- Nuts and seeds (Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds,)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Omega-3 Fish Oil
- Cruciferous Vegetables (cabbage, collards, kale, cauliflower etc.) .
Chamomile has been used for many years because of its many health properties and calming effects [ 16]. Add a ¼ teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers to your dog’s daily meal while it’s being trained by the animal behaviourist. A calmer, more relaxed dog will be more receptive to training. ALSO Include one or two of each of the foods which are high in tryptophan and tyrosine in your dog’s diet to FURTHER HELP.
Incorporating specialised nutritional ingredients with behavioural training could help to increase the likelihood of your dog’s recovery from the mental, psychological and behavioural damages caused by abuse.
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