Trust is an essential component of the human-canine relationship. A dog that doesn't trust its owner is unlikely to obey commands, foster a bond or truly become a member of the family. Dogs that show signs of lacking trust in their humans may present themselves as unfriendly or not trainable, which unfortunately, can result in having to find another home, which continues to foster the behavioral problem.
Reasons for Lacking Trust
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There are many reasons a dog might not trust human beings. A dog could have been in an abusive home in which physical punishment was the norm. He may have been abandoned and lived on the streets where he was either mishandled or ignored. If a human causes pain to an animal, the dog can transfer that fear to other humans, which manifests itself as a lack of trust.
A dog that doesn't trust you may cower from your touch or even your voice. He may ignore your commands and fail to recognize you as the pack leader. Your dog may be aggressive or defensive of his territory, particularly his bed and his food, not trusting that they won't be taken away from him. If you raise your voice, your dog may fail to make eye contact, put his tail between his legs or even try to get away from you.
Dogs who don't trust are unlikely to show excessive amounts of affection, at least not initially. They may shy away from physical gestures, be unwilling to play, and forgo the usual excited tail wagging, enthusiastic greeting most trusting dogs show when they see their human companions. A dog that lacks trust may come across as shy, reclusive or unwilling to engage.
How to Build Trust
Be kind and gentle to your dog. Learn as much as you can about his past so you understand what difficulties he might be facing. Create a schedule in which you reliably provide food, love and attention. Protect your dog against unfamiliar situations that might frighten him or cause anxiety. Building trust is a process that can take time, but the more consistent and understanding you are with your pup, the more likely these important bonds will form and grow. He will come to respect you and rely on you for his care and well-being.
By Lisa McQuerrey
Good Housekeeping: Gaining the Trust of an Abused Dog
Veterinary Partner.com: Abused Dog?
Animal Shelter.org: How To Show Your Dog How Much You Love Him
About the Author
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.