Building Resilience in Dogs, Part 1

Building Resilience in Dogs, Part 1


What builds resilience? For those of us who care for dogs with very low adversity quotients, this is a very important aspect of caring for our dogs and helping them navigate the world.
Trust is a very important foundational aspect of building resilience.

How can we improve and strengthen this foundation?

1. Become a proficient advocate for your dog.
We control every aspect of our dogs’ lives, so it is our responsibility to ensure that they feel safe and secure. If our dogs thinks that they need to advocate for themselves, they will likely employ dysfunctional strategies to do it. We can advocate for our dogs by prioritising their welfare, safety, and feelings over the feelings and opinions of strangers.
Ask people to give your dog space, deny people’s requests to greet your dog if outsiders make your dog nervous, and avoid situations where advocating for your dog could be difficult. Create distance between your dog and triggers. Respect and help them maintain their boundaries and intervene when other people or dogs cross those boundaries. When your dog can rely on you to keep them safe, they will develop a more robust sense of trust and confidence.

2. Don’t bait and switch.
Avoid bribing or luring your pup into unpleasant situations, for example, using a high value treat to lure them into the bathroom for a bath. Bribery and inappropriate use of a lure will poison rewards and diminish your training toolkit. If your dog believes that a treat offered could result in the end of fun or worse, they are less likely to trust you. Ensure that your dog knows that good things come from you to build a foundation of trust.
3. Do not inflict pain or discomfort.
When the threat of physical harm exists, dogs cannot feel secure and confident to do or try new things. When our dogs know that they are always safe with us, then they will trust us. This may seem like an obvious concept, but there are still people in the world that believe that hitting, yanking, and physically intimidating dogs is an acceptable method of teaching or getting dogs to do what they want them to do. Many people confuse their dogs’ love and sense of loyalty with trust. Just because your dog loves you and shows loyalty, it doesn’t necessarily mean they trust you. Inflicting pain and discomfort compromises your relationship with your dog as well as their welfare.
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