Trust—a tiny word that means so much. Trust is the reason you can confidently walk out of the room for a couple of minutes, while your ten-year-old nephew is playing fetch with your dog—or not. Trust and training can save your dog’s life when you feel the clasp of the leash break and see your pup race towards the street. And trust is why you don’t worry when stick your hand into your dog’s mouth to retrieve a dead bird.
Trust goes both ways and you can lose it in an instant. Here are simple ways to keep your dog’s trust.
Watch closely: Dogs frequently communicate aversion and unease. But too often, well-intending people ignore their dog’s pleas. Dogs are faster than humans, and situations get serious very quickly. Running away and hiding are very clear signs that a dog is trying to avoid a situation. Snapping and growling are your dog’s way of saying “KNOCK IT OFF, NOW!” Unfortunately, if you overlook your pup’s appeals, he may stop saying “please” and use his teeth to more firmly convey her disdain.
Predictability: Life is stressful and chaotic for you. Imagine how difficult it can be for your dog to process all the noise, movement, and change in his day. Make sure your dog has a happy place or enjoyable activity that he can rely on every day, no matter what.
Some pups LOVE and need their walks. Other dogs prefer learning their cozy blanket is a safe haven away from loud guests. While other dogs enjoy busy activities like pattern games. Try different approaches to see what makes your dog merry in the moment, then softly settle himself when the exercise has ended.
Don’t wait for your dog to be pacing and panting during a thunderstorm to start his routine. That’s unfair and your dog will fail. If you were visiting a country where you don’t speak the language, you wouldn’t wait until your plane landed to start learning the vernacular. Short, daily sessions are key to show your dog he can count on you.
Your dog trusts you. Preserve his trust. Consider what he’s communicating and give him stability. He deserves it.