Will my dog ever trust me again? Here’s What to Expect

Let the Dog Approach You

Will my dog ever trust me again?

Most people are far too quick to approach a scared dog, even if that dog is their own. When I share my home with fearful foster dogs, I try my best to ignore the dog unless I’m playing one of the games outlined below.

If the dog approaches me, I drop a few treats to reward bravery. But I don’t turn to her, praise her, or attempt to pet her.

If the scared dog tries to engage with you, great! Reward that in a way that’s rewarding for her (not for you – again, this probably means giving food rather than giving cuddles). But if she chooses to keep her distance, respect that. If you try to chase her around forcing her to interact with you, you’re not building trust.

Offer Your Side

Will my dog ever trust me again?

Some scared dogs will feel more comfortable approaching you if you kneel with your side or back to the dog, rather than approaching a dog head on.

This indirect approach is more “polite” in dog culture. Approaching head-on, like down a hallway or on a sidewalk, is very threatening and direct.

Of course, don’t turn your back on a potentially dangerous aggressive dog – assess the situation and decide what is best.

We talk more about how to politely greet strange dogs here – don’t be a rude human!

Slow Down

Will my dog ever trust me again?

One of the biggest mistakes that many people make is that they just move too fast. Before you stand up, lift your arms, or make any other potentially alarming movements, try to sigh or otherwise get the dog’s attention subtly.

This will help the dog anticipate your movements and not feel so scared when you do stand up or reach for something in the upper fridge. The goal is to not surprise your dog – make sure they know when you’re about to move or do something.

14 Signs Your Dog Doesn’t Love You (Even if You Think They Do)

“I’ve had my dog for three whole days, but I don’t love him and he doesn’t love me. What am I doing wrong?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this sentiment from discouraged new puppy parents.

Much hullabaloo is made over the notions that dogs love unconditionally, rescued dogs are immensely grateful to their adopters, they just LIVE to please their masters, etc. So you can be forgiven for assuming that bringing your new dog home should be an immediate unconditional-love-fest.

It doesn’t actually work that way, at least not every time. You adopted a sentient being. You did not walk into the Unconditional Love store and pick up a box of instant Grateful Rescued Dog (New-and-Improved with Added Respect and Adoration!).

Relationships, with dogs or people, are something you develop over time. Establishing and growing an unbreakable bond is a matter of months and years, not days.