Are you considering a furry addition to the family? Whether you're looking into adopting a dog, or already have a pup who is a bit shy, there are some easy ways to help a dog earn your trust, and make sure they feel the same warmth and affection you feel towards them.
Try these easy tactics:
Make your home a welcome place for your dog.
If you are adopting, make sure you are prepared to welcome your pup to your family; have all the things you will need ready for when you bring your friend home for the first time. The top essentials include: Crate, bedding, grooming supplies, food, water, food bowls, treats, toys.
Adopt A Pet recommends that you bring your dog home when you have a few days be at home with them — this will allow them to understand what their new place looks and smells like, and to also become familiar with your own smell, which they'll begin associating with comfort and home.
Schedule regular bonding sessions with your pup.
Playtime is essential to creating a relationship with a dog. Make sure you're giving your dog regular playtime, ideally on a schedule so they know to associate certain times of day as fun moments. If you're the provider of these moments, your dog will come to understand that you're a human who makes fun things happen!
According to the ASPCA, exercise is essential for dogs to burn calories, stimulate their minds, and to be happy and healthy. Taking your dog on walks and running around with your dog in a yard is a great way to play with your dog and give them a great workout. However, until your dog is trained you should wait before taking your dog to a dog park or into crowded areas where your dog may meet strange people or other dogs, before he learns appropriate behaviors in public.
Yes, treats will definitely help a dog like you!
Offering healthy and tasty treats can be a great way to get a dog to associate you with delicious treats and come to trust you, according to expert dog trainer Cesar Milan. However, you shouldn't make sudden movements or the dog will become frightened and run. Instead, offer the treat in your palm and wait for him to come to you. If he doesn't come, place the treat on the floor and take a few steps back. Once he gets a taste for the treat, offer another from your hand. When he gets used to coming to you, continue to hold your hand out after the treat is gone. When he places his head in your hand, gently nuzzle your hand against his fur. This will take time and patience, but can help make your pet less fearful. Just make sure you are not using a treat system to accidentally reward bad behavior. Treats should be used to gain trust (don't go overboard!), and to reinforce good and friendly behavior.
Always approach dogs slowly and patiently.
When approaching a dog to pet him or pick him up, do so slowly. You never want to lunge at a dog in an attempt to catch him. This will only scare him more and make it even harder to build trust. You want your dog to come to you of his own free will.
Better yet, let a dog come to you.
If a dog is particularly shy or nervous, it's best to not force an interaction, even if you're trying to do so slowly and gently. Instead, try allowing the dog to come to you on his own terms. Try sitting with some treats on the floor in front of you, or with some in your hand and see if the dog approaches. If he does, let him dictate the interaction; don't make any sudden moves to pet him, even if he's taken a treat. Let him take his time to become comfortable around you, and to become aware of your scent.
Training makes dogs happy.
Training your dog is one of the best things you can do to create a happy and healthy bond between you and your pet. Dogs communicate in a language of their own, but it is easy to teach your dog what is acceptable and not. Perhaps more importantly, however: dogs need a pack structure, with you as the clear leader. Make sure you're training your dog to follow your rules, and that he's always understanding that you're the boss.