Though there are many exceptions, a large number shelter dogs come from terrible situations of neglect and/or abuse that may have left them fearful of people. When you bring your dog home from the shelter, it's only natural for him to be shy and withdrawn. With a bit of work, you can build trust with your adopted dog, and your new friend will come to love and rely on you.
Tip #1 - Offer treats.
Most dogs can't resist the aroma of a tasty treat. This can be a great way to get the dog to come closer. 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.
Tip # 2 - Spend quality time together.
Many shelter dogs have been left behind by their owners and feel they can't trust anyone. If you're the type to be out and about a lot, take your dog with you as often as possible. Let him know you care about him and you're not going to abandon him. When you do have to be away from him, leave toys and treats to keep him occupied until you return. During the first few weeks, you should try to limit any unnecessary trips that require you to be gone for too long.
Tip # 3 - Approach your adopted dog carefully.
When approaching your 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.
Tip # 4 - Give your dog some space.
Don't attempt to smother your dog with love on the very first day. Give him a chance to get used to his new home and calm down. This may take a few days, but first allowing him to become comfortable will make him more apt to trust you. In time, he will come to you for petting and cuddles on his own without being lured by the smell of tasty treats.
Tip # 5 - Be patient.
It takes time to build the trust of a shelter pet. Many adopted dogs were neglected or even abused by their previous owners. This can be emotionally scarring for the animal and needs to be considered when building a bond with your new pet.
By Amy Brantley
About the Author
Amy Brantley has been a writer since 2006, contributing to numerous online publications. She specializes in business, finance, food, decorating and pets.