how to tell if your dog trusts you

Photo by Simon Moog on Unsplash

History testifies that dogs have always been humans’ best friends. The bond between them can grow incredibly strong if it’s based on love, affection and most importantly trust. Getting your dog’s trust goes much beyond petting it and giving it food three times a day. Trust is to be earned over time and it takes constant care and love to make your dog trust you with its life. Some signals do not deceive to know whether it does or not; here are some.

1. Eye Contact

Looking someone in the eyes might have different significations and interpretations, depending on the nature of the relationship between you and the person in front of you. It may mean you respect, hate or love them. It is also a way of showing attention and focus on whatever they are saying or doing. That’s a different story when it comes to eye contact with dogs. If a dog looks another dog in the eye, it’s a sign of dominance and engenders a threat in most cases. That’s why dogs generally don’t look at each other in the eye.

Now if your dog makes eye contact with you, it’s a whole other meaning it holds. Dogs somehow understood that humans gave a different meaning to eye contact and saw it as a way of establishing a strong relationship. It was one of the first steps to domestication, explains the Animal Behaviorist Alexandra Horowitz. Gazing into your dog’s eyes in a loving way is, therefore, a sign of trust and affection.

2. Asking For Cuddles

Wolves and wild dogs purposefully sleep in small areas with members they trust to protect them against predators if needed. That’s why dogs feel the most insecure and vulnerable when they’re asleep. The fact that your dog is willing to share your bed shows just how much it trusts you because it knows you won’t hurt it and would protect it if an unwanted incident occurs. 

You might be annoyed by the kicks during your sleep, but if your dog voluntarily hopes into your bed to sleep, it’s a sign that you’ve got its complete trust.

3. Your Dog Is Confident And Relaxed Around You

Body language is a great indicator of how your dog feels. Paying attention to those signals may tell you a lot about your dog and how confident and relaxed it feels. For example, if your dog pants excessively, pin its ears to its head, its tail between its legs and starts pacing back and forth, they are feeling scared and anxious.

In opposite, if your dog trusts the people around it and feels relaxed in their company, it will show it by blinking repeatedly, keeping its mouth slightly open, its ears in a forward position and its tail wagging or loose. This way, your dog communicates the trust it has in you and your ability to keep things under control. It isn’t scared of being scared or surprised with you.

4. Good Response To Training

Training your dog goes beyond teaching it some techniques; it creates a bond between you and your pet. Based on the trust it has in you, it will respond well to your training. If you have your dog obeying you without the punishment and fear-based method (prohibited by behaviorists), it means you have reached a high level of mutual trust and respect.

Newly rescued dog owners might encounter more issues while training their dogs because they have trust issues. That’s simply because of the trauma they got from their previous experiences: abuse, abandonment, etc. They need time to adjust to their new family and, once they’re sure it’s a permanent one, trust starts to rebuild and training becomes much easier. It might take time, but once they feel comfortable enough with you, their blind trust is the best reward you can get.

5. Your Dog Is Calm When You Leave

Trust issues might generate abandonment and separation anxiety. Dogs that don’t trust their owners enough are more likely to panic and cry, whine, scratch the dog or become aggressive when they leave them alone or with other people because they either want to join in the fun or aren’t completely confident they would come back.

Therefore, if your dog trusts you blindly, this issue is more likely to fade away and your pup becomes calm whenever you have to leave to accomplish your humans’ business away from home. That’s the result of your dog trusting you to the point it knows you wouldn’t leave it for good. It might not be very keen to see you leaving, but will wait for your comeback and give you a proper greeting when you show up again at the end of the day.

6. It Looks At You When It Needs Reassurance

Even if it wants to sniff every tree it sees or resists you when you decide it’s time to go back home, walking your dog is always a pure moment of complicity. You’re like a team, and team members have each other’s backs. For the most insecure and fearful dogs, being outside is a real challenge; and being with their favorite human is particularly comforting when they trust their human.

If your dog isn’t the easily intimidated kind, you can look for some signs that would tell that it trusts you nonetheless. Your dog would regularly glance at you to check on what you’re up to; if it’s walking or running ahead of you, it would look back in your direction to make sure you’re following and happy with its behavior; if, while busy interacting with other dogs, it would stop from time to time to scamper back to where you’re standing. That way, it shows it trusts you by involving you in what it’s doing.

Realizing your dog trusts you is one of the best feelings in the world. It shows just how much your pup loves you and what a wonderful pup parent you are. If your dog does all the things listed, your bond is really strong and authentic. As amazing as it is, it’s also a great responsibility; you’re bound to respect the trust your dog puts in you and be there for it when needed. It’s something to cherish, nurture and never take for granted.