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Published: Nov 16, 2012

One of the difficult things about cat or dog adoption is that you may not be able to find out your pet's personal history. While most animals are a bit anxious when brought to a new home, if you find after a few weeks that your cat or dog has yet to adjust, you may be dealing with a traumatized pet. Don't be worried - there's no reason that you can't build a strong and lasting bond with your new animal companion. It may take a bit of extra work, but here are some tips to help you along.

A trip to the vet
Whenever you bring a new animal into your home, you'll need to take a trip to one of your nearby vet hospitals. There you'll be able to get a professional opinion on your dog or cat's behavior, and a vet will be able to check your pet to see if she might have been the victim of physical abuse.

Signs of trauma
Remember that every animal has a unique personality, so your cat or dog may exhibit signs of trauma in a variety of different ways. Some dogs may cower, or you may find that your canine is prone to excessive dog barking, particularly if she is around someone who reminds her of her abuser. Cats may take to hiding from you or prefer to spend a lot of time alone. Cat or dog aggression can also be a sign that your pet has had a hard time in life, though others may seek out physical attention to help them cope with past pain.

How to comfort your pet
Your approach to comforting your abused pet should be based on the animal's personal response and behavior. For instance, if you have a pet who wants a lot of attention and one-on-one time, you should try to give her what she needs. Set aside time each day for long walks for your dog or play sessions for your cat.

If your pet seems frightened or aggressive all the time, your approach will likely have to be a bit slower. For example, if you are engaging in puppy training with a young canine who seems scared, you'll need to use a soothing voice and offer plenty of positive rewards, so she learns that you are someone to be trusted. If your cat is overly aggressive, keep an eye out for her body language and vocalizations, so you know when she is feeling overwhelmed.

Patience is the name of the game
No matter what kind of behavior your pet exhibits, if she has been abused, then you'll need to tap into your patience. Animals are creatures of instinct and experience, and it may take your companion some time to learn that her new home is safe, secure and loving. There may be some issues that your pet never overcomes, but it's likely that with time, you'll find the bond you share with your cat or dog is strong and lasting.