Dogs are lovable and affectionate creatures that can become your friend for years to come.
A canine companion can play, cuddle and give you kisses.
However, some dogs won’t trust you immediately. Whether you’re adopting a shy shelter dog or interacting with the neighbor’s pup, learning to gain a dog’s trust is an essential skill for any pet lover.
6 Ways to Win Over Your Dogs Trust
There are many ways to earn a dog’s trust, such as positive reinforcement training techniques and friendly behavior.
1. Give Them Space
Dogs, like humans, may find unfamiliar situations threatening and scary.
They may not like physical contact immediately. Dogs make human friends by smelling them first.
That’s because each person’s scent is unique, and they learn a lot about you, such as your health, hormone levels, and most.
Instead of running up and hugging them, it’s best to avoid physical touch at first. Give the pup the time and space they need to inspect you. It’s best to let them approach and sniff you.
Make sure to avoid confrontation, fast movements, and loud noises as well.
2. Avoid Eye Contact
Some dogs may not have many experiences with humans. Therefore, direct eye contact can be interpreted as threatening or aggressive behavior.
When you avoid direct eye contact, the doggo will see you as non-threatening and open to potentially being around you.
3. Use a Friendly Tone of Voice
Unfortunately, dogs don’t understand the human language. Your pup will pick up on your tone. The tone can reflect all kinds of emotions like happiness, sadness, love, pleasure, worry, and anger.
For example, soothing tones express care and affection.
These tones often reassure your pet that they are in a safe and comfortable environment. Gently pet the dog and speak in a positive yet quiet tone.
Consider using a cheerful tone to entice the doggo to play. They may respond by wagging their tail or perking their ears. Cheerfully saying words like “Good dog!” can reinforce their good behavior.
4. Offer Your Side
Scared dogs don’t like to be approached head-on. Instead, you’ll want to speak to them while turning away. You can kneel down to the side and let them approach you.
5. Play Treat and Retreat
Food is a powerful motivator for dogs, especially if a tasty treat is involved. Treat and Retreat is a game that is designed to get shy dogs outside of their comfort zone and reduce the chances of defensive aggression.
This game is played by tossing a delicious treat behind them. The dog will run back and eat it; then, they’ll likely approach you again for another treat toss. Typically, the game works best when you’re sitting down.
This rewards-based training method teaches the dog that they can approach you and retreat at any time.
By tossing the treat behind them, the dog feels safe eating their favorite treats near you. Over time they’ll gain a sense of trust in you.
Unfortunately, most owners try to lure dogs with a bowl of food in front of them. However, this can make them feel pressured. Once they experience any signs of fear, they might lash out.
6. Try Pat-Pet-Pause
Positive training methods are a great way to get a pet comfortable with being around you and receiving physical contact.
Before you continue with this exercise, make sure your dog is comfortable approaching you.
In this training practice, you begin by patting your knees to call the pup over. Next, gently pet them under the chin, on the butt, or on the chest.
Avoid petting her head or belly; that can trigger their flight instinct.
After petting them for 3 seconds, pause for a moment. Examine what the dog does. If they look up or come back for more petting, you can repeat the petting behavior. In case they move away or look uncomfortable, stop immediately. If their body language is neutral, try petting them differently.
The Pat-Pet-Pause training helps the dog associate a positive experience when you pet them. However, if they don’t like it, it shows that you can respect that and won’t look to get angry. This puts them in control, which can provide a sense of security.
Building Trust With a Dog
It’s best to know the dog’s triggers to understand what causes their behavior. For example, if they show food protectiveness, you can learn to leave them alone while eating.
Consider seeking help from someone with training experience. We recommend working with a professional trainer, so they can help to calm their aggressive tendencies.
For example, they might recommend using a tie-back or muzzle. They’ll also provide obedience training to help discourage certain behavior.
Some dogs take longer to trust you, and that’s okay!
Following these tips will help you to gain their trust over time. Remember to reward them when they do show signs of trust.
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