Establishing trust between you and your dog is among the most important and rewarding things a dog owner can do to ensure long-term success in the adventure of owning a dog.
Above all things, dogs look to us to provide them with a sense that they can consistently rely on us to provide care, protection, food, water, exercise, love and security.
Especially when adopting a dog into your home, expect an adjustment period and proceed carefully, deliberately and with patience when trying to establish trust with your new companion.
Because we cannot know for certain what a dog has experienced before meeting us for the first time, and their natural tendency to react cautiously to new situations and surroundings, it is best to proceed cautiously and calmly when interacting with a dog for the first time.
Always remain calm when interacting with your dog: they are remarkably sensitive to body language and the tone of your voice and you will find that a little goes a long way in this regard. They will naturally pick up on and mimic your tone and attitude: remaining calm, attentive and sensitive will engender that behavior in your dog.
Acting overly excited with your dog can trigger unwelcome and unpredictable excitement in your dog that can be difficult to manage and tone down.
When entering a room or space where a dog is present, it is best to initially give the dog some space and time to adjust to your presence. If you allow the dog the opportunity to be the one to make the first greeting, you will instill and reinforce in them the feeling that you are not a threat and you can and should be trusted.
It is sometimes a good idea to make the effort to get down closer to the dog’s level when interacting with them. While direct eye contact can sometimes be interpreted by dogs as a sign of aggression, enabling them to see your eyes and where your gaze is focused can reassure and instruct them as to the nature and safety of the current interaction.
Holding your hand down in a fist can help them understand that it is okay to approach you and removes what in some dogs can be a natural or learned anxiety about your intentions.
Striking, chastising, teasing and making your dog feel guilt and shame should always be avoided: all of these things erode the trust you are trying to nurture and can lead to behavioral issues that are difficult to overcome.
Consistent praise for good behavior, saying yes, and no, when appropriate are the best ways to enable your dog to understand what is expected of them. Dogs naturally want to please you and fit into their proper place in your pack.
At the Friends of Falmouth Dogs shelter, we are enjoying the process of establishing trust with Nala, a beautiful, 3-year-old mixed-breed female that has recently become available for adoption.
She is very smart and adaptable and has a unique pedigree: one-half Husky, one-quarter terrier and one-quarter chihuahua. She is a fast learner, is making new friends and has already mastered several new commands. We have learned that Nala enjoys attention, activity and being close by her human companions. She especially enjoys back and belly rubs. Nala has beautiful tan-and-white coloring and has experience living with older dogs and older children.
Nala visited the vet last week and has been given a clean bill of health: she has a great appetite and loves and responds well to treats of all kinds.
Nala possesses lots of energy and loves to play and run, so she would be very happy with an active person or a family with energetic older children.
Interest in Nala is evident and increasing, so don’t wait too long to come in and meet this lovely dog. If you think you might be interested in adopting Nala, we strongly encourage you to come to the shelter to visit with her and fill out an adoption application.
New Volunteers Are Welcome!
For those of you who love dogs and might be able to spare one or two hours a week to help the Friends of Falmouth Dogs look after dogs that have become available for adoption, we are looking for you!
Volunteering entails walking, playing with and feeding dogs who are looking for a new home. Our most successful new volunteers have a general comfort level with dogs, a willingness to learn some basic techniques for handling and caring for them and the ability to commit consistently to volunteering at the shelter for one or two hours per week,
Friends of Falmouth Dogs is open to the public from 10 AM to noon on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and from 3 to 5 PM on Monday, Thursday and Sunday.
Volunteers are needed for those shifts as well as for the times when we are closed to the public but are still here looking after our dogs: from 9 to 10 AM on Monday, Tuesday and Sunday, and from 4 to 5 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Friends of Falmouth Dogs is at 150 Blacksmith Shop Road in Falmouth. We can be reached at 508-548-7742. Please visit friendsoffalmouthdogs.org for more information.