I am a staunch advocate of dog adoption from shelters and rescues and often many of those dogs had gone through a sad life up to that point, a life rife with neglect and abuse. With these dogs, you need to take extra care but in the end you will find that it was more than worth the time and effort that you extended to them.
These dogs are may be more difficult to deal with as the normal things we do causes them anxiety and fear. You can, however, increase your chances of teaching an abused dog to trust with a few simple changes in approach and a lot of patience.
When interacting with this dog, bend down to appear less threatening. When talking to him, keep your voice low and cheerful. A loud or frustrated tone will cause him to fear. Call him to you; don’t approach him. If he makes an effort to obey, praise him. Don’t wait for him to obey completely. Remember, he may be used to getting hit when he approaches someone.
When you do get to pet this dog, avoid his head. Keep your hand palm up as it approaches him and gently rub under his chin or on his chest. Rubbing either spot tends to calm a dog. If he moves to step backward, let him retreat. In time, he will stay longer.
When a dog is nervous or scared, he will often wet the floor involuntarily. If this should happen, it is important not to allow your frustration to show. It is not a deliberate attempt at disobeying and will likely disappear as he gains trust in you.
Keep any sessions short, with just a few minutes of actual touch each time. You can gradually increase the time as his trust grows. Often, just sitting quietly and waiting for him to approach you will make him feel comfortable. If your initial attempts fail, try this.
A once-abused dog can be as trusting and loving as any other. All it takes is patience on the part of those in his life. A crouching position, low voice and appropriate touch will win him over eventually.
Often these dogs are so full of unappreciated love and so grateful to be introduced to a wonderful loving life and home that they will be the most loving and loyal pets you can imagine.