I’ve known my best friend for almost 16 years. That may not seem like very long when you’re in your 30s, but considering she’s a dog it’s a bit more impressive. I’ve known her since she was born and our bond was immediate, even though we spent several years mostly apart due to college and veterinary school. However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing as my pup tends to be the jealous type and hasn’t experienced that same immediate bond with my husband or children that have come along since.
Unlike me, they had to work at it to form a positive relationship with my dog. It’s not that she’s mean in any way, she just lives by the motto “If you ignore it, it will go away.” The trouble was, she wants to be with me constantly and well, so do they. So, the ignoring route ended up not working. Fortunately, what seemed to finally win her over for my husband and kids both is just being patient, not forcing anything, and spending time around her. She got used to the idea that now I come with these people and if she wanted to be with me, she also had to be with them. Over time she decided it wasn’t so bad and that eight hands to pet her were better than just two.
How to Get a Dog to Like You
Dogs are considered man’s best friend, but that friendship isn’t always automatic. Building that special bond with a dog takes time, nurturing, and sometimes a few tricks. It can also be different if you’re trying to get a puppy to like you versus an adult dog. There are many different methods you can try to get a dog to like you, so let’s discuss a few.
1. A Safe Spot
Transitioning to a new home can be rough for even the most easy-going dogs, so creating a space that is their very own will help make them feel safe and give them a comfortable, familiar area to go to when things get scary or stressful. Make sure this space is truly there own and that other members of the family, furry or otherwise, aren’t allowed in there. Crates, laundry rooms, or areas behind furniture work well as they are more sheltered and can help your dog feel protected. As your new dog gets more and more comfortable in your home, they should start needing their safe spot less and less.
It may not seem like much, but feeding is actually a great way to gain a dog’s trust. They rely on you to provide for them, so showing that you’re going to take care of their needs goes a long way in getting them to like you. Take it a little further than just putting food in their bowl; sit with them, pet them, feed them by hand, anything to show affection and spend time with them while they’re filling their tummies.
Most dogs really enjoy a nice brushing and it’s important for maintaining a healthy haircoat. Grooming your dog not only helps them to relax, it’s also a great time to get to know them. Talk to them, stroke them, and play with them during a grooming session. Be sure to take it at their pace, don’t push too hard or make it last longer than they’re comfortable with.
Positive reinforcement is a great way to train a dog and earn their trust in return. Positive reinforcement consists of providing rewards when things are done right-ie. coming when you call them, sitting and staying, asking to be let out, etc. Rewards can be in the form of treats, praise, affection, or play. You should never punish a dog for doing something wrong. Nothing will break a dog’s trust in you faster than punishment. Instead, don’t make a big deal out of the mistake, show them the correct behavior, and then reward them for doing right.
Don’t focus only on the relationship between you and the dog, it’s important that your dog has good relationships and respects other people and other animals as well. For nervous or anxious dogs, consider socializing in a more one-on-one environment rather than the frenzy of a dog park.
Get them out and about several times a day for short walks or play sessions. This will give them a chance to explore their new surroundings and be with you at the same time.
7. Take Trips
Most dogs love to see new places. Share that excitement with them by visiting some dog friendly places like a park, the beach, or go for a hike. You’d be surprised at the number of dog-friendly venues there are these days.
8. Get Playful
Find out how your dog likes to play and then do it with them, a lot! It may be fetch, tug-o-war, chase, or chewing on toys, whatever it is, get yourself into it as well. Offer new toys and new games until you find the favorite ones.
9. Keep Them Healthy
Even though the veterinary clinic may be scary, it’s important that your dog goes. Keep them current on vaccinations and provide necessary flea, tick, or heartworm treatment. Don’t hesitate to take them in for any signs of illnesses or even if something just seems off. Your veterinarian is there to help you and your dog be as healthy as can be.
10. Be With Them
Sometimes getting a dog to like you is as simple as being with them- undistracted and present. It says a lot to a dog when someone is just willing to sit with them, rub their belly, and talk about their day.
When getting a dog to like you, above all it’s important to take things slow and be consistent. You don’t want to force your way in or push until you’re taking two steps back for every step forward. Be aware that adult dogs may take more patience and longer to come around to someone, especially if there has been any abuse or neglect in their past.
Learn about a dog’s body language. This will help clue you in as to whether you’re pushing too hard or moving too fast. Happy dogs wag their tails, perk their ears forward and have a relaxed posture about their body. Uneasy dogs will be tense, pin their ears back, and even curl up a lip or growl if they’re uncomfortable.
Getting a Puppy to Like You
Puppies may seem carefree, easy going, ready to love everyone, but in some cases, they may be tougher to impress than adult dogs. Most puppies are a mile-a-minute and easily distracted so they may have a hard time focusing on your bonding session. So, for puppies, all of the same above methods will still work, you just may have to modify them a bit.
1. Keep it Short
With a microsecond attention span, long training sessions will be a bust. You can still work on basic commands, just keep it simple, short, and frequent. Ask your puppy to sit or come throughout the day rather than an all-at-once hour-long session.
2. Make it Fun
Puppies, dogs of all ages, and people for that matter, all respond better if an activity is fun. Nobody wants to practice boring old tricks day in and day out. Make it fun by adding toys, treats, and lots of excited puppy talk. Being energetic, though not scary, will encourage your new puppy to join in with you. While puppies do enjoy some down time for belly rubs and petting, most of the time they’ll want to play, so indulge them.
3. Consider a Clicker
Puppies may have a hard time focusing on you, especially if there’s other stuff going on around them. Clicker training may be the way to go. With a clicker, the puppy knows when they hear that sound it’s time to look to you for instruction. If done right, your puppy will respond to you even in the midst of the chaos of the dog park.
4. Stay Positive
Puppies are very impressionable, so any negative experience is going to stick with them. Try to make sure all of your interactions are positive and avoid punishment, even for messes on the carpet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Every dog is different so it may take one of the above methods or all of them in order to get a dog on your side. Here are some frequently asked questions when it comes to this task to hopefully address some issues that dogs with different needs may have.
[su_spoiler title=”Q: What if my dog seems scared of me?” open=”yes”]
A: With dogs that are scared, going slow and consistency become even more important. Always let the dog call the shots. Have them come to you instead of you forcing yourself on them. Get down to their level and sit near them, offer treats, let them smell your hand, or simply just sit and calmly talk to them. If they’re uncomfortable, more a little further away. If and when they come to you, praise them, reward them, and then start the process over. Feeding is a great time to do this and offering them food from your hand may make you seem less scary.
[su_spoiler title=”Q: I’m newly married and my spouse’s dog doesn’t like me?“]
A: This is the situation my husband found himself in. It’s important to remember that before you came along, it was just your spouse and their dog. The dog didn’t have to share their owner with anyone. Now that they have to share them with you, problems may arise. Try to show their dog that you’re not a threat, always include them when doing things together and don’t try to take their place. This may mean that sometimes the dog gets to sit next to your spouse on the couch instead of you and that’s ok until they’re more comfortable with the idea of having you around.
[su_spoiler title=”Q: We’re expecting a new baby and worried about how our dog will react?“]
A: There are many ways that a dog could react to having a new baby in the house: excitement-more hands to pet them!, ignoring it, curious and interested but unsure, and aggressive. Most of your dog’s reaction will be based on their personality, for example some dogs are just excited, even if something is screaming and pulling their hair. Since you don’t fully know how your dog is going to react it’s important to always supervise any interactions between your dog and new baby and they all could be potentially dangerous. Show your dog that the new baby is nothing to be afraid of and let them investigate if they’re willing to nicely. As your child grows, make sure to teach them how to interact with the dog nicely as well, no pulling hair, biting ears, stepping on tails, etc. But above all, make sure your dog still gets some one-on-one time. Feeling like they’re getting replaced may cause your dog to harbor ill feelings towards your baby. Make time for your dog, go on walks, play, and take trips just like you used to. Try to keep things as close to their old way of life as possible, just start to include the baby in some of these activities so that your dog gets a chance to bond with them as well.
For most dogs, getting them to like you may be as simple as looking in their general direction, but for some it may take a little more effort. When getting a dog to like you, think about how you would want to be treated-with affection, attention, playfulness, and respect. Doing these things in a consistent and slow-paced manner will have most dogs eating out of your hand in no time.