The saying goes that “dog is man’s best friend,”… but that doesn’t always mean you become BFFs at first sight. If you’ve got a new canine companion, there are some important things you should know about how to achieve that longed-for BFF status. Before you buy colored string to make matching friendship bracelets, you may want to take note of these tried and true methods to get your dog to trust. Once you’ve earned his trust, the love and respect will follow close behind. Before you know it, you’ll have matching jammies and be staying up late having pillow fights and watching rom-coms together in true best-friend fashion.
One of the most important aspects of any relationship (even the human kind) is trust. That’s where it all begins. When your pup knows he can trust you, you’ll have his respect, love, and loyalty for all eternity. So how do you earn that trust?
When doggo does something he shouldn’t, it is important to stay calm and collected, even in the face of poor behavior- or dare I say especially in the face of it. This shows your pup that you care, and he can trust you to keep your cool. That’s not to say you’re a doormat. If you’re trying to squelch undesirable behavior, you can still show assertiveness and be firm without being terrifying. Many dog owners equate shouting with instilling discipline, but that’s not really how it works. In the wild, the mother dog hugs her pups through their necks. When one starts acting out of line, she releases it from the protective cuddle. The mother never bites or snarls at her pups to correct them. It might seem weird to be firm and calm while disciplining without shouting. Still, it’s a critical step to getting Fido’s trust and respect.
If you’ve just welcomed your new roommate into the fold, don’t expect love and affection right off the bat. Your pup will need to adjust to his new surroundings and his new human (that’s you!). Don’t panic if he’s not obedient on the third day of your relationship – you’re not doing anything wrong. Just like humans, it takes time to build that trust and love in a new relationship. Consistency is key.
No, not like a space cadet who can’t figure out his left from his right. Give him actual space, like square footage, especially at first. Your pup may need space to figure things out. Make sure he’s got his special place, whether it’s an entire room or a corner of the room. It should be a comfortable spot he can go to feel safe and know that he won’t be pestered if he needs some zen time. It could include a cozy bed or blanket and maybe a favorite toy to cuddle. Some dogs love to have a crate as their safe zone.
When your dog notices that you’re taking care of his needs and listening to what he wants, he will start to yield to you. Feeding him on a regular schedule, taking him out when he asks, and giving him your undivided attention during playtime will show your doggo that you care about him. Figure out what his favorite thing is and do more of it. Does he love snuggles on the couch? Or does a romp through the woods give him the happy tail wags? Learn to read your dog’s body language and play up the positive vibes as much as you can, and he’ll return the love.
Dogs thrive on consistency. Erratic behavior, wishy-washy discipline, and up-and-down schedules can tend to make your pup anxious. When he doesn’t know what’s expected of him or how you’ll react to a particular behavior, he won’t be able to trust you. For example, if you let him on the furniture when it’s just you two at home, but not when guests are over, he’ll get confused because he doesn’t understand the difference. However, maintaining a routine, establishing rules, and being consistent with their enforcement will help him learn that you are in charge, so he can relinquish control and trust you. Staying positive and consistent are sure-fire ways to gain Fido’s trust – and once you have that, he’ll follow you to the ends of the Earth.
Be Positive in Training
Training your pup is essential to gain his love and respect. If you allow him to do whatever he wants, he’ll never respect you. Training gives you lots of one-on-one time and allows Fido a chance to please you and get rewarded for it – it’s a win-win situation. Be sure to use lots of positive reinforcement when it comes to training. You can use their favorite toys, activities, treats, and lots of words of praise. These will all show your canine companion that you are the provider of his favorite things, which means he’ll likely see you as his favorite human.
No one likes feeling afraid or vulnerable, be it man or beast. Make sure you are always your doggo’s biggest advocate and protector. If he’s terrified of the fireworks, give him comfort and lots of snuggles and let him know you are his safe place. If he hates riding in the car, don’t make him do it unnecessarily, and when it does need to happen, speak soothing words of reassurance to him. If possible, have a friend drive so you can sit with your pup and comfort him through touch. Always be your pup’s safe place.
Be a Snuggle Buddy
Consider letting him sleep in bed with you. I know it’s controversial, but hear me out and let’s look at the logical side first. In the wild, the dogs in a pack all pile up and sleep together at night. No one is banished to a crate or a corner to sleep solo. So it just goes to reason that Fido would feel more at home being able to pile up on the bed with you. Plus there are benefits for the human too! You’ll have a built-in heater at your feet, and he provides a sense of safety and security, which could lead to a more restful sleep. It’s also proven that pups offer stress relief and can ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety that can tend to creep in during those quiet night hours. Having your furry friend in bed with you can reduce those symptoms and help usher in those sweet dreams.
Be a sidekick
Spending quality time together is one of the best ways to build that BFF bond with your canine. So many places are pet-friendly these days; it’d be a shame to leave Fluffy behind! Take him along for that coffee or dinner date on the restaurant’s patio, let him join you for the outing to the pet store or the picnic in the park. The more time you’re together, the stronger your bond will become. Don’t know where to go? Click here to find places in your area that allow dogs.
Be his health coach
Being BFFs with your canine companion isn’t all about how you feel. It’s equally important to ensure that Fido is healthy and groomed. Make sure you keep up with his diet, vet visits, and vaccines. Not only will this help your pup to trust you, but it could also end up saving you lots of dough! Some of the most costly mistakes of pet ownership fall under the health and grooming category.
Be a Playmate
Enjoying a good game of fetch, frisbee, or tug-of-war isn’t just beneficial for your pup’s mental and physical well-being. Play is also how dogs learn manners. They learn the give and take playing with someone, and it’s a great time to reinforce that positive behavior. Lack of quality playtime can lead to behavior issues. When dogs get bored or restless and don’t have a chance to release the energy in playtime, it’s often released on your favorite couch or potted plant. Of course, it’s also great bonding, and it releases endorphins for both of you and gets those happy juices flowing!
Dogs make excellent companions and can be fun animals to have in your life. Their natural instinct is to protect you in times of danger and offer companionship through life’s ups and downs. They are particularly excellent for emotional and psychiatric support.
If you’re considering a new dog in your life or trying to grow closer to the one you have for purpose of him serving as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) or Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD), these tips and tricks should help. You will have that BFF badge from your furry friend before you know it and realize you have found a life-long companionship.
If you would like to see if you qualify for an ESA or PSD, we can help. Start here with this simple questionnaire.