Greet with a treat
How do I gain a dog's trust?
Dog socialization is different from human socialization. When dogs meet, they say "hello" and shake hands in a different way from humans. If you are meeting a dog for the first time, you will need to gain his trust by using dog language, rather than human language. If you are trying to gain the trust of a new puppy or dog, you will also need to use certain techniques to allow the dog to see you as a friend and owner, rather than a threat.
1. Remain calm when you first meet the dog. If you are interacting with your new dog for the first time or if you are interacting with a dog you have never met before, avoid the temptation to approach the dog in an excited state. Instead, project calm and relaxed energy when you meet the dog. Act calmly and greet the dog softly.
2. Acting excited can make the dog excited and lead to an aggressive greeting, like jumping up on you or barking at you. This can also trigger the dog's fight or flight instinct, as a stranger approaching the dog with high energy can feel like a threat to the dog.
3. Keep your distance. Respect the dog's space by addressing the human or owner of the dog first. Ignore the dog and avoid standing too close to the dog. You should allow at least four feet between you and the dog. This will give the owner time to give you permission to interact with the dog.
4. Get down to the dog's level. Ask the owner if you can interact with the dog. If they say yes, approach the dog from the side, never from the front. Kneel down next to the dog, facing the same direction as the dog is facing. This will show the dog you are occupying his personal space, but you are not being confrontational. Do not make eye contact and hold your hand down in a fist.
5. Allow the dog to approach you. Rather than put your hand out to the dog, let him respond to you by sniffing your hand. If he remains calm, you can pet the front of his chest.
6. Do not touch an unfamiliar dog from above or pat his head. If the dog licks your hand, he has accepted you. But if he turns his head away or does not pay attention to you, he is not interested in interacting. Avoid taking this personally. Instead, interact again with the owner and try again when you next meet the dog.
7. Use a treat. If you are trying to get a dog to trust you as his new owner, you can integrate treats into this process by allowing the dog to approach you and take a treat from your hand. When the dog takes the treat, say "Good dog". After a few sessions of taking the treat from your hand, the dog may touch your hand before taking the treat. Once he starts to do this, you can try to pet the front of his chest and under his chin. It can take time to gain the dog's trust, and the more you meet or interact calmly with the dog, the more likely he is to trust you. Progress slowly from using the treat to petting the dog to avoid scaring him. Once he allows you to pet him, you have started to build trust between you and the dog.
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