Building trust with your dog is certainly the number 1 task that you ought to do if you ever want to be successful in training your dog.
Trust needs to be both way, between you and your dog. There are many varieties of technique that you can use to make and foster that trust relationship.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through some common approaches that I have been using to build that trust and bond with my dog.
Puppies have a strong bond and trust in their mother when they are young and lots of this bond is related to survival which ties to food and shelter that their mom is providing for them.
They trust their mom will take good care of them, protect them from harm and making sure that they have a place to sleep and food to eat.
This is what makes the puppy’s trust their mother. So we would want to start with the same approach as we bring in a new dog to our family, to make him look upon you as his “caretaker”, the one that he can fully depend on.
How To Make Your Dog Trust You?
You will get your dog’s trust by ensuring that his 3 essential needs (Food, Shelter, Safety) are well taken care of. This is how your dog trusts his mother as she did all these things for him when he was young.
Feed Your Dog Food With Your Hand
This simple action can mean a lot to your dog. By letting your dog eat his food directly from your hand instead of using a food bowl, you are showing him that you are providing the food for him and your hand is a place of touch and love.
Your dog will “trust” your hand and believe that it would bring him good things. This will certainly help in your training as he would not resist when you give him some love through petting during the training.
A Safe And Secure Personal Place
Provide your dog a safe and secure personal space that he will consider as his “home”. In my view, nothing works better than a crate for this.
Crate is often view as a dog den and that brings sense of security and comfort for your dog as he will find himself well protected from any threat in the crate
To make the crate much more cozy, you can place a warm blanket along with some of his favorite toys in it to make him feel comfortable to be in.
Eye Contact With Your Dog
You would want to maintain that eye contact with your dog to create that trust and bond with him.
But do not over do it. Intermittently have that eye contact with him while you are petting him or feeding him should be adequate.
Through eye contact with your dog, there is a “chemical” action that is going on in his brain and it actually creates a stronger bond and trust for you.
Get On His level
During the initial stage when you are trying to gain your dog trust, refrain from approaching your dog from the front, do it from the side and kneel next to him in the same direction.
This will be the way to “get” into your dog’s personal space without making him nervous or stressful. Gently pat him and shower him with your love to make him feel comfortable to be with you.
Cuddling Your Dog
Allocate some cuddling sessions with your dog before and after each training session. This provides the opportunities where you can bond with your dog physically and believe me, he is going to really like this action.
Petting him, scratching his ear, playing his favorite games are some tasks that you can do to bring him closer to you and trust you more.
Having some quality time together plays a crucial role in building the bond and trust with your dog. It is going to be a time that is well spent.
Once he starts to realize that you are always willing to be there for him no matter what, he will begin to see you as a leader, and he will trust you.
Bring Him For A Walk
Taking your dog for a walk can certainly help to cultivate his trust in you. Put him on a loose leash and bring him out for a walk.
Make sure that he is not walking in front of you, and he is following obediently behind you. You would want to “show” him your Alpha position so that he knows that he can trust you to protect him from any harm and give him direction.
You will have to exhibit a calm assertive state as your dog will look upon you to ensure his safety.
Reward Your Dog For His Task
Another way to build trust with your dog is to make him do some simple tasks such as lay down, stay on the couch, or fetch something and reward him when he completed it.
You will have to give him very clear and specific instructions so that he knows what he is supposed to do. Make sure to reward him instantly when he does it. This will make him trust you that if he does what you had asked him, he will be rewarded.
Routine For Your Dog
Dogs like predictable events and by having a fixed routine for your dog, you can certainly make him trust you.
He will know that you will be giving him food and play with him and will trust you to take good care of him just like his mother would.
So set a schedule for your dog that works best for you, and then be consistent. This will help your dog quickly learn the rules, and build his trust on you.
Let Him Come To You
Make sure that you allow your dog to explore. Do not keep your dog at a distance. Most dogs need to sniff to learn about the world around them.
Reward and praise your dog when he comes for you. This will be a good indicator that he is interested in you and trust you and is going to be a positive reinforcement for him.
He will learn that when he comes to you, something good will happen. He will get a high value treat from you!
Never Get Angry At Your Dog
Dogs are very much like little kids, and they will inevitably make mistakes and cause accidents. You should never lose your temper at your dog or punish him for his misbehavior as that will make him be fearful of you and lose that trust you had built up with him.
Observe Your Dog
Learn what your dog likes and doesn’t like, are there any specific things or events that are going to trigger his anxiety or stress.
By learning this information, it would be much easier for you to manage your dog’s emotions and make him feel at ease and calm when he is with you. This will build his trust on you.
If you find your dog likes to play fetch or tug and will get very happy and immersed in the game, get yourself involved in these games as well. This will be an excellent opportunity to build his trust and bond with you during the playtime.
Also keep a lookout on his body language so that you will know if what you are doing is making your dog happy or nervous.
For example, if your dog is exhibiting a relaxed ear with his tail wagging and body leaning toward you when you are petting him, this is his way of telling you that he is happy to be with you.
Trust is earned and not given. This is especially so for a scared dog to trust you. It takes time and positive reinforcement. With patience and persistent effort, you will earn your dog’s trust and his love.
So start building the trust by making your dog feel comfortable to be with you through fulfilling his needs (food, shelter and safety), and show him affection by spend some time each day touching him gently in different areas of his body such as his ears, paws, mouth and belly.