10 TIPS FOR BUILDING TRUST BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR RESCUE DOG
Adopting a new dog can be so exciting! You want to build that bond as quickly as possible and become the best of friends. This is an amazing feeling, and while it is very likely that your new rescued friend will indeed become your best friend, it might take them a little longer to adjust to the new situation.
We have put together a list of 10 tips for you when it comes to building that bond between you both and getting your new pet to trust you. Remember, some rescues have never had a family and they have no idea what it is like to have a human friend. It's your job to show them.
1. Give them space
It might seem strange when trying to build a bond, but the last thing that you want to do is to overwhelm or scare them. You don't want them to see you as this big scary stranger! Let them relax in your presence and let them come to you when they’re ready. When they do, remain soft and gentle with them until you know that they are sure that you are not going to hurt them.
2. Keep Calm and...
…stay that way. Most rescues are expecting you to get mad at them. They are most likely used to mean humans. Show them you are different. Stay calm and collected at all times. Generally, everything they do is out of fear, so give them nothing to fear.
3. Make walks interesting for THEM
Your new friend probably isn't used to going for walks, so try and take them on walks that they will enjoy to the fullest, especially while you are building that bond and introducing them to the good life. A slower walk in the country, lots of sniffing and exploring. Keep your dog on a lead at all times during the early weeks and months as they will be easily spooked, as you will not have that bond or trust built up.
4. Start a regular routine
Dogs crave structure, habit, and routine. Start putting one in place when it comes to feeding, walking, potty breaks and bedtime. This will indicate to the dog that they are safe and you are someone that they can trust.
You can start building up some communication between you slowly. Starting to teach basic commands can be great for this. It creates an understanding and language between you as well as mutual respect for one another.
7. Set boundaries
Don't give your dog full run of the house from the first day and then wonder why they don't listen or are doing naughty things. Dogs don't understand that they are being naughty, they are exploring. They don't understand the rules of the house because you never gave them any, at least not in any way that they understand. In the beginning, keep them close to you, i.e., in the same room or in a special area like a crate, or utility room with a baby gate for example at all times. They are like children. They need supervision and guidance until they know how to behave and what’s expected of them in the home.
8. Give your dog a safe space
It can be hard living in someone else’s world and someone else’s family at least that’s how it can feel for them in the beginning. Make sure that they have a space where they can go if they want to get away from it all. That way you will know that when your dog is with you it is because they want to be and not because they are forced to. A crate is an ideal space for them. We have a post about crate training on this page — check it out!
9. Don't introduce everyone to your new dog at once
The whole point is that you want to build trust, so you can't keep introducing new people to them and expect them not get overwhelmed. They will panic and won't know whom to trust. Give them some time to build that trust with you before introducing everyone you know to them.
As with most things in life, consistency is key. Show your dog you are there for them and you are not going anywhere. Most rescues have never had a reliable human in their life, much less a friendly one that treated them well. Show them what it's like to have a real family.
Remember, dogs want to be our friends and love us just as much as we want to love them. Most of them just don't really know how, in the beginning. However, they have an incredible capacity for love and even more so for forgiveness when humans have let them down. They crave a human that they can love and spend every day with. Show them that you are their person, and they will be the bestest friend that you ever had!