Updated: Feb 12, 2021
Many people are confused with what trust means with your dog.
Often, we tend to think of trust from the perspective that your dog trusts you. This is correct, but it is incomplete.
Developing or Building Trust with your dog doesn’t just mean your dog trusts you are not going to hurt them. Trust is deeper than that. It means your dog trusts not only will you not harm them but that they can trust that you will not ask them to do something that will hurt them.
A dog that truly trusts you is a dog that is willing to jump up on a new surface or obstacle they’ve never seen before simply because you asked. Or walk across or on something you ask them to without them fearfully pulling back and resisting.
Sometimes we will hear people comment that they can’t or don’t trust their dog around other dogs or with new people or any myriad of scenarios. Your dogs know when you are frustrated, when you are nervous, happy or mad. They literally smell it. When our emotions change our scent changes and dogs pick up the subtle change in our scent and learn how to associate that scent with the mood you are exhibiting.
Trust is also important for the human, not just your dog. This simply means you have trust IN your dog and their behaviors and consistency. You can trust they will act or behave reliably in new environments. The more trust you have in your dog the more they can sense that and the more trust they have in your leadership.
So how to do you build trust? Great question! You build it and EARN it over time.
Start with simple commands and give your dog verbal feedback and a reward (love and affection is the best reward) when they do things right. When they miss the mark, acknowledge it and have them do it again until they are able to do it consistently in new situations and new environments. The change to the environment and adding complexity to the options they “could” make vs. the command you’d like them to perform is what begins the process of your dog understanding the command and understanding and trusting in your leadership.
If things scare them or overwhelms them….SLOW down. If you’re afraid of horses you certainly wouldn’t riding a bucking bronc in a rodeo for your first ride. When teaching your dog a new skill, you should treat them like you would a toddler. Don’t THROW them in the water to teach them how to swim but get them comfortable BEING in a big body of water first. The same holds true when building self-confidence and trust in your dog.
Effective dog training incorporates trust and confidence building as a foundation of the training. Without trust it is difficult to expand the dogs obedience skills past basic obedience for the key ingredient of trust and confidence is missing. Advanced obedience dogs have an enormous amount of trust in their handler.
Good leadership, whether it be in business, the military or with your dog is an indication of trust. And trust goes both ways.
The K-9 Culture Family
Dallas' Largest Indoor Dog Training Facility