Trust is the foundation of the loving bond you share with your dog. Building your dog’s trust won’t always be easy, especially if your beloved furry friend is a rescue or has endured past trauma, so patience and perseverance will be necessary. As the owner, earning that trust is your responsibility for the two of you to enjoy a long, happy life together.
1- Stay Calm
Dogs will often pick up on social cues from their owners through a process called entrainment. If you’re nervous, angry, or irritated, your dog will pick up on those feelings and mirror that energy. Obviously, these negative states are not conducive to trust-building. Focus on calming yourself and speaking in a gentle tone, as being overly excited can have a negative impact as well. Trust can only grow in a place of tranquility.
2- Train Them Well
Training is an important step in earning your dog’s trust. A well-trained dog is a happy dog because they understand there will be positive consequences to following orders. You can teach your dog a few basic commands on your own, but more advanced training requires the help of professionals. Training helps build your dog’s confidence and strengthens your trusting bond.
3- Reward Good Behavior
Once your dog is well-trained, you need to continue to positively reinforce their good behavior. Offering treats as a reward is one simple way, but you might not always have a treat nearby and overfeeding can lead to weight gain. Rewarding your dog with attention and playtime can also strengthen your connection, build trust, and demonstrate your love for your dog. Dogs readily respond to positive reinforcement, so rewards help them learn more quickly than punishment.
4- Be the Pack Leader
While the concept of “alpha dog” training is outdated, your dog looks to you for guidance, so it’s your responsibility to ensure their safety. Your dog needs to know that you would never endanger them if you want them to trust you. You should also learn to communicate with your dog on their terms, so study basic dog behaviors and learn how they communicate. Know how to interpret your dog’s body language so you can respond in kind. When your dog knows you can understand and lead them, their trust in you will soar.
5- Spend as Much Time Together as Possible
Like in any relationship, love and trust are built by spending time together. Take your dog for walks and trips around town. When you’re at home, make time to play with your dog and give them all the affection they need. If you’re constantly working late or traveling out of town without them, they’ll feel lonely and trust will be hard to build.
Trust is the backbone of the relationship between you and your dog. It’s your duty to commit yourself to fostering this trust, so don’t take it lightly. It will take time and effort, but eventually, your relationship will blossom into one that’s full of love.