When it comes to dogs, building trust with your furry companion is essential for a healthy relationship. After all, if your dog doesn’t trust you, how can you expect them to obey you or be comfortable around you? Gaining and maintaining the trust of a new puppy or adult dog is no easy task, and it’s important to remember that trust is earned over time. With patience and consistency, you can cultivate a bond that will last a lifetime.
Of course, because each dog is unique, there may be outliers – you might meet a dog that is immediately friendly and trusting, just like you may meet dogs that are naturally wary and standoffish. Getting a new puppy from a registered breeder is one of the easiest and most foolproof ways to get a dog that is gentle and well-behaved from the get-go. For especially difficult scenarios such as aggressive or reactive dogs, you may want to get the help of a trusted veterinarian or canine behaviourist.
The first step in gaining a dog’s trust is to introduce yourself. To do this properly, you will need to get to know them on their level. Dogs rely heavily on body language, so it’s important to be aware of the physical cues they give off when they are feeling uncomfortable or scared.
When introducing yourself to a new dog, always make sure you crouch down so that you are at eye-level with them. This will show them that you are not going to be a threat and make them feel more comfortable around you.
Dogs have incredibly sensitive noses that can detect even tiny changes in smell, so it’s important to let them get used to your scent before attempting physical contact with them.
Allow them to sniff your hands and feet before advancing further if they seem comfortable doing so; this will help reassure them that you are not a threat and start to build trust between you two.
Once you’ve introduced yourself properly, you can begin to really build upon the foundations you set.
1. Give them space
Dogs need plenty of time to get used to their new environment and family before they start to trust anyone. Allow them some space and time to adjust before trying to build a connection. This means not smothering them with attention or pushing them into activities they may not be comfortable with right away. Instead, let them explore the house and yard at their own pace and give them plenty of treats for good behaviour.
2. Establish routines
Dogs thrive off routine—it helps reduce stress levels and makes them feel secure in their environment. Establish regular times for meals, walks and playtime so that your dog knows what to expect each day. This will help create structure in their lives and help build trust between the two of you.
3. Speak softly
Dogs are sensitive creatures who can easily pick up on loud or aggressive tones of voice from humans, so it’s important that you speak calmly when addressing your puppy. Use soft words when they do something correctly instead of yelling or scolding them for mistakes; this will make them more likely to listen when asked to do something else in the future since they know they won’t be yelled at if they make another mistake.
4. Spend quality time together
Quality time spent together is one way to show your dog that you care about him/her and want nothing but the best for them. That goes a long way towards building mutual trust between you two! Activities like playing fetch or going on long walks are great ways to bond with your four-legged friend while also allowing them some much needed exercise!
5. Create a safe space
All dogs need a place where they feel safe, especially if they’re scared or anxious. Give your pet their own bed or crate in a quiet corner of the house where they can go and relax away from any potential sources of stress or danger. It’s best that you keep a path to this safe corner open at all times – you’ll find that even calm, relaxed and trusting dogs will return to this safe space very often. If possible, try to make sure this space has easy access to outdoor areas too so that your pet can go outside if they want some fresh air and exercise.
6. Offer treats regularly
Treats are an excellent way to reward good behaviour and show your puppy that they have done something right – which encourages more positive behaviours in the future! Keep treat sizes small so as not to overfeed your dog.
7. Train consistently
Consistent training is key when it comes to gaining a dog’s trust; regular lessons will help establish boundaries between yourself and your pet while also teaching them proper manners. Dogs experience a lot of anxiety when they don’t know how to behave in a new situation, and basic obedience training is a great way to give them a set of guidelines about how to act. Start off by teaching basic commands like “sit” or “stay”; once those have been mastered, then you may move onto more advanced tricks like “roll over” or “fetch”!
Gaining a dog’s trust takes patience and consistency—but the rewards are well worth the effort. Your puppy will become more relaxed around you, easier to train and overall just happier knowing that they have someone who has their back.