Today almost every household has a pet. Having a pet in your life brings about life satisfaction, mental and general health. RSPCA statistics report shows that there are about 29 million pets in Australia with dogs being the most. With that said, we have all probably met a dog and wanted to know if it was ok to say hi or pat them.
A dog may ignore you or even run away. This is most common with adult rescue dogs who may be unfriendly at first. So, how can you gain dog trust without scaring them away or making them feel uncomfortable?
You might take it personally and think the dog doesn’t like you. But when you look at it from a human perspective, dogs do not know how to introduce themselves or shake hands. For sure, dog trust socialization goes beyond some things humans do to make them feel comfortable around strangers. They don’t have set rules with other dogs or humans.
How do you show a dog that you trust them?
Think of the way you approached a dog for the first time. You probably talked to the dog with a high-pitched voice or looked them straight in the eyes, or even stretched your hand to reach out to touch them. This could have made them become anxious enough not to want anything to do with you.
It’s important to earn a dog’s trust to avoid any aggressive behaviour. Whether you are greeting your neighbour’s dog in the street or introducing a new dog to your pack, here are things you can do to earn dog trust.
1. Stay calm
Sometimes, you may be tempted to greet a dog with lots of excitement and energy. However, you should avoid this since it could make the dog excited and make them jump on you.
It could also trigger the dog’s fighting instinct making them become aggressive towards you. Always make sure to stay calm and speak softly.
2. Respect Their Space
Always make sure you don’t touch them. Talk to them, while avoiding eye contact. Make sure to ask the dog owner if you could interact with them while still completely ignoring the dog.
Also, it is important to avoid standing too close to the dog so that they do not feel threatened. Always wait for the owner to give you directions on how you can interact with the dog. Make sure you are as gentle as possible.
3. Get on Their Level
Getting on their level is the only way you can win a dog’s trust. When approaching a stranger’s dog, make sure you do it while kneeling and facing the same direction as the dog. Doing this will make you be in the same space with the dog but not in a confrontational way.
4. Let them come to you
Another way to earn dog trust is to let them trust you. This happens when the dog lets you know they’re interested. They can show interest in you by sniffing you and calmly staying near you. When they do this, you can gently pet them from their chest.
Never try to pet an unfamiliar dog from above. If the dog licks you, then it shows they have accepted you. When they turn their head away from you, they are not interested. Don’t take it personally; graciously accept and move on.
5. Take them for a walk
When meeting a dog you want to adopt, all the steps apply. You will need to respect their space and still wait for them to come to you after you start living with them. Dogs live in a pack, and after they see you as part of their pack, they will learn to trust you.
Taking your new dog for walks is one of the best ways to bond with them. Doing this will make them see you as the leader of the pack and they will obey and respect you. They will know you are protecting and giving them direction. This is the easiest and most effective way to gain dog trust.
How long does it take for a dog to trust you?
The only way you can tell if your dog trusts you is through their body language. When a dog does not trust those around their space they might show signs of anxiety and aggression. Statistics show that dog anxiety can lead to vulnerability, diseases and a short life span.
When you hear a dog growl, they are most likely showing signs of discomfort beforehand. However, when these signals are ignored, you may push the dog to continue with the behaviour just to be heard.
Growling is the same behaviour a person shows when they want to be heard or noticed. Some dogs may growl to let you know you need to stop making them uncomfortable.
It is not easy to predict how fast dogs bond with their new owners. All dogs are different and their ages define how long it takes to bond with their new owner. Older dogs take more time to bond than new puppies. Dog trust is what defines the whole process.
Puppies tend to trust easily and gaining their trust takes little effort. At this tender age, they can easily accept people as their companions and accept new pack leaders too. Creating a new bond with puppies is a pretty easy task.
It is not easy to create dog trust with adult canines especially if they have experienced trauma in the past. This could be physical abuse or abandonment. In Australia, about 60,000 cases of animal cruelty are reported every year, and this is the class of pets that may lack pet trust.
Even though a dog may connect with you because they associate mealtime with you, some dogs take longer to establish a strong connection. However, some adult dogs can bond with their owners immediately. Bonding greatly depends on each dog’s story.
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