The bond between a dog and its owner is the best, purest kind of love there is. However, to get to that point, you have to go through an entire journey, where both you and your dog learn to live with each other, learn each other’s individual preferences and build habits together.
All that being said, building trust takes time. So, in this article, we’ll talk about a few ways in which you can earn your dog’s trust. Believe us when we say that it takes more than giving your dog food and shelter to do that.
Results don’t happen overnight, so when you’re trying to get your dog to trust you completely, you will have to be extra patient. First, you’ll need to prove to him or her that you don’t want to hurt him. You’ll be able to achieve this by tending to the basic needs: offering food, shelter and safety. Then, you’ll have to appeal to emotional needs. So show your dog that you’re ready to love them and protect them every opportunity you get.
It will take time, but every time you show them that you care, it reinforces trust a bit more. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where your dog will start trusting you and come to you to seek comfort.
Next, let’s talk about space. This is particularly important when you first bring the pup home, but it can be just as relevant at any point throughout your journey together. Your dog needs to have a place of their own to be able to feel safe, asses the situation or just get comfort in. Find a place in your home that’s a little more withdrawn, but still has a clear view of most of your home (like a corner). This will quickly become their safe space.
Respect is the first ingredient needed in earning someone’s trust - and that includes your dog. Give your dog space when he or she requires it. Comfort him or her when they need it. Help them get over obstacles, but also allow them to learn on their own. As a matter of fact, in some cases, like anxiety in dogs, it’s important to keep calm and avoid reacting to their signals, as it might accidentally reinforce that behavior. For example, if your dog is having an anxiety episode, maybe over you leaving the house or something, instead of comforting them and then leaving (which might make a connection that there’s a reason for them to panic), divert their attention to their favorite toy or something. That way, you can praise them for being active or showing interest in the toy and it will keep them calmer.
Both physical and mental stimulation are important for your dog to lead a good life. You can offer a little bit of both (and also gain your dog’s trust in the process) by training your dog. Start with the basic commands, as these are most important for safety purposes, but once you’ve got that down, you can also go the route of dog agility or trick training. Dog agility is amazing for strengthening the bond between owner and canine, while trick training can be an awesome mental stimulant for your dog.
Regardless of which one of the two you go for, keep in mind your dog’s body language so that you know exactly if your dog is interested, bored, of fearful. If that’s the case, and you have any reason to believe your dog might not be enjoying the activity you’re currently doing, take action and try going a different route. That can mean either changing the training method, or changing the activity entirely, depending on what your dog’s reaction is.
In the end, though, it’s all about reading your dog’s body language, having patience and also making sure your dog’s needs are being met.If that’s happening, then you and your dog will bond for sure. Keep in mind that trust doesn’t happen over night and that you have to prove it to your dog that they can trust you time and time again. Dogs live in the now, meaning that their current feelings/beliefs take precedence. So, keep reminding your dog that they can trust you, even after you think you’ve gained their trust.