How To Build Trust With Your Dog

Over the years, your dog will get used to you, and you to them. 

However, what you really want is to build trust with your dog so that you can have a wonderful relationship that’s good for both of you. 

This might feel impossible when you first start out, especially if your dog is particularly nervous (this may well be the case if you adopt a dog from a shelter, for example), but don’t give up. 

With some hard work and dedication, and with some understanding about how to ensure you can really build trust with your dog, you can form a lasting bond. 

Read on to find out more. 

Be A Kind Owner

While it may seem obvious, this is the single most crucial factor in establishing trust. Dog owners should never physically or verbally abuse their pets. Even if you come home to utter destruction because your dog has chewed through everything, it is important to remain calm and cheerful. 

This is especially true when dealing with a young dog that is testing limits or a newly adopted dog that hasn't had sufficient training. Calm yourself by taking a big breath or giving yourself some time to think about the situation objectively, and then respond to the problem by using your head instead of your heart. 

Always maintain a calm and gentle manner and voice when interacting with your dog, and they will begin to learn that you are there to help them and they'll bond with you more easily. 

Of course, you do still need to be firm with them, as they must learn what good and bad behavior is. This is where proper training will help you, as you’ll be able to teach them in a way that is not cruel and that they can remember. 

Give Them Space 

A nervous dog won’t get less nervous if you don’t give some space to get used to their new surroundings. In fact, if you keep trying to connect with them, even if you have the best of intentions, it can make them feel even more anxious and it could mean they never fully trust you. 

The canine mind interprets the new and unfamiliar as dangerous. Give the dog some room and time to get to know you so they can decide for himself if you're a good fit for them. Try not to force yourself on them by walking over to befriend them, but rather let them come to you if they seem intrigued or if you have something tasty, like their food. 

Be aware that it can take some time for a dog to get used to a new home and new people, so you need to take things gently and not try to rush them even if you really just want to give them a big hug and become lifelong friends. That will come if you’re patient. 

Watch Them

The best thing you can do to earn the trust of a nervous dog is to keep a careful eye on them and react appropriately to what you see. Stop doing whatever action causes them to widen their eyes, raise the tips of their whiskers, shift their weight backwards, or anything else that signals their nervousness. 

A wag of the tail, a calming of the eyes, or a forward movement are all signs that your dog is starting to trust you more. But until they are not nervous at all, you must be careful. 

It's a common misconception that a fearful dog should be rewarded with affection if it shows signs of bravery. This is usually too much, too soon, and can have negative consequences, taking every forward step back again. Allow the dog to make all the moves and let them stay in control. 

Reward Them

That’s not to say you shouldn’t reward your dog; far from it. It’s just a matter of understanding when that reward will be positive and when it might set things back. 

It’s a good idea to always have some special treats with you to ensure that no matter what happens, you can always give your dog something to show them they’ve done well, and help them learn that trusting you is a good thing. 

Make sure the treats are healthy ones and appropriate for dogs by researching this first, just to be safe. You can find out a lot of useful information, including whether dogs can eat spinach, for example, at this site:

More time spent together means more chances to bond with your dog, gain their trust, and learn about each other, as well as showing them they’ll get rewards for getting closer to you – physically and emotionally. 

You should take your dog out for walks, play games with them, and train them, in addition to just spending time with it. Then everyone benefits. 

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