What does it mean to trust your dog?

Trust works both ways. As pet parents it is important for us to give our dogs reason to trust us. We do that by respecting them as the sentient being they are. Relating to our dogs as beings who feel, means we will only touch them with loving touch. No physical abuse of any kind will be expressed toward them. Basic kindness and respect is essential to establishing trust. 

We need to give our dogs reason to trust us.

Relating to our dogs as sentient beings can allow us to see the world from our dogs perspective. Empathy toward our dogs and attempting to understand how they feel about what is happening is a great way to build trust. Learn as much as you can about canine body language. Our dogs are talking to us all the time with their faces, tails, posture, ears, eyes and every part of their body. Getting on the floor with them helps us think about what it is like to walk on four legs; what it is like to have paws and not digit fingers. See the world as your dogs does and you will be amazed at how trust will build between the two of you.

It is very important we are always there for them when they need us. Making sure they are fed, provided shelter and given the exercise and love they need as well as the medical care when necessary. Meeting our dogs basic needs is something our dogs can trust and depend on us to provide. 

Dogs like routine. My dogs let me know it is time to feed them. After they eat they routinely go outside. Dogs develop routines and adapt to living as a member of our family. They come to trust us to always be there for them consistently and positively. Repeated loving trustworthy behaviors we extend to our dogs builds trust. 

Being fair is important. When a dog does what you ask it is only fair to reinforce that behavior and not tease or withhold the treat or reinforcement. Teasing our dogs and making fun of them is not fair to them. Negative behavior does not build trust. Punishment does not build trust. Deep and binding trust develops over time spent together being kind, fair, respectful and protective of our dogs. 

The bottom line is being there for our dogs builds trust. Dogs are also very intuitive. They know which humans like dogs and those who don't. They know who is kind and who is not. They know when their needs are being met on a regular basis.

Be your dogs advocate. Dogs cannot speak for themselves. 
They depend on us to know them well enough that we can describe any physical or emotional differences to the vet. We need to be there to protect them from toddlers being toddlers and pulling and pinching them and more. We need to protect them from other dogs and all situations that could jeopardize our dogs safety. This advocacy builds trust.

It is impossible to build trust if yo don't spend time together. Spending time with your dog engaging in activity together will allow both of you to get to know each other and build trust and a partnership. You will also have fun. Being with your dog just feels good. 

Another aspect of trust is the pet parent learning to truly trust their dog.

When I began Nose work training with my dogs I had to address this aspect of trust. In nose work you learn to read your dog's body language and learn what he does when looking for the hide in the search. The dog has to find odor hidden in a tin and it is often not visible. The dogs nose will find the hide. The handler needs to trust their dog has the ability to find the hide. When the handler over thinks this and tries to guide the search, usually the hide is not found. Learning to trust your dog is better at this then you are is a leap of "trust" for many pet parents/handlers. Dogs are better at this. The ability of their noses far surpass ours.

This experience has allowed me to trust my dogs more in other day to day situations. When my dogs resist doing something I listen to them even more now. Pressuring them to do something because I think they should and not listening to them does not build trust. If my dog does not want to go outside, does not to want to eat something, or resists anything at all, I check out possible reasons for this resistance. Jazz was resisting eating and it took me a while to figure out he was reluctant to eat because the food was too cold. He is older and likes his food warmer. Since I have been warming his food he eats with a robust enthusiasm.

Trusting our dogs know what they need and know what they are doing is the other part of the trust equation.   
Trust Your Dog!