It’s not easy to repair something that’s broken.
Especially if it’s the trust of someone who admires you deeply – like your dog’s.
Seeing them avoiding you like you’re a stranger is truly heartbreaking.
But imagine how hard it is for them to act like that as well.
Now you feel terrible for what you did and you’re wondering…
“How can I save our relationship?
And where do I start?”
Read on to find out:
- 13 methods to repair the relationship with your dog.
- The first step that you should do to gain back their trust.
- Several ways to apologize to them and show your affection.
- Things you should change to make them feel comfortable again.
- And many more…
Table of contents
- Can you rebuild a relationship with a dog?
- How to repair relationship with dog – 13 methods
- #1: Never give them a reason to be afraid again
- #2: Keep your composure
- #3: Change your mindset right now
- #4: Give them some space
- #5: Make an effort to understand them better
- #6: Quietly stay around them as much as you can
- #7: Talk to them every once in a while
- #8: Take them out for walks every day
- #9: Engage them in their favorite games
- #10: Always allot time for training
- #11: Use positive reinforcement
- #12: Counter condition and desensitize them
- #13: Accept that this will be a tough and long journey
Can you rebuild a relationship with a dog?
You can rebuild a relationship with a dog. But it won’t be an easy feat. To do this, you have to earn back their trust and never do anything that’ll break it again. This can be done by changing your mindset and remaining calm. As well as understanding them better and spending more time with them.
While also respecting their space. So that they won’t be overwhelmed and be more afraid of you.
To know more about the different tips, continue reading.
How to repair relationship with dog – 13 methods
#1: Never give them a reason to be afraid again
First off, the best way to gain your dog’s trust back is to vow not to do anything that’ll hurt or scare them again.
This means, refrain from doing any harsh methods to discipline them. Say, hitting, yelling, or scolding.
I know you already realized this since you’re here. But, let me say it again.
Punishments will only cause fear to dogs.
They’ll not learn if you beat them. Instead, they’ll only associate the pain and fear with their humans’ presence.
And this is the reason for your dog’s distant or aggressive behavior towards you or other people.
Now, if you’re wondering whether your Fido will forgive you for hitting them or not…
The answer is yes.
Dogs give humans unconditional love. To the point that sometimes, we’d feel like we don’t deserve them.
Your doggo will still remember the pain and fright in their heart. Especially if the harsh methods were done several times.
So, if you love your dog so much and you’re determined to repair your relationship…
Start a fresh new chapter with them.
The damage was already done. So you should now strive to not add up to their fear. And make every day as positive as you can.
#2: Keep your composure
To do the previous tip, you should learn to control your temper and remain calm.
I know. Dogs can be frustrating at times.
And it’s impossible not to feel stressed if they’re out of control. So this may seem easier said than done.
But, if you really love your dog and you want to salvage whatever is left in your relationship…
Practice walking away.
“What do you mean by that?”
If you feel like you’re about to burst from too much frustration, step back and pause.
Don’t yell, hit, or throw things away. Instead, reflect and ask yourself,
“What was the reason for my dog’s behavior?”
And how can I help them unlearn it?”
Do this so you won’t get carried away with the overflowing emotions.
#3: Change your mindset right now
Yes, right now.
If you want to fix a broken relationship with your dog, start seeing things from a different point of view.
Specifically from a loving and understanding one.
This will also help you control your temper. Because by doing this, you’ll be focused on helping your dog to correct their behavior. Instead of punishing them.
Remember, dogs don’t know if they’re being bad or not. So they’ll never understand it no matter how much you scold or beat them.
#4: Give them some space
Now, once you already know how to deal with your emotions…
Don’t try to make any physical contact with your dog yet.
This means, avoid touching or petting them in the meantime.
As well as giving them so much attention. Like talking to them every time and always making eye contact.
(Staring at your dog can intimidate them. So never look them straight in the eyes for so long.)
I swear, they’ll not like it yet.
They’ll avoid you. And if you force them to do anything right away, you’ll only make it harder for yourself to mend the broken relationship.
This is because you still have to earn back their trust first. And it’ll not happen overnight.
So, to avoid making more negative experiences with your pooch…
Don’t rush things and give them space.
Note: Don’t worry. You only have to do this until they start to open up with you again.
#5: Make an effort to understand them better
If your dog’s uncomfortable with you, you should also avoid doing things they dislike. So you have higher chances to restore your relationship.
But, how will you know those things?
By observing your pooch for days or weeks.
Dogs communicate with us in many other ways besides barking.
Their emotions may show on their faces. And they can also use their bodies to point out something.
For example, anxious dogs usually lick their lips all of a sudden. They’ll also yawn a lot, avoid eye contact, or have a stiff posture.
So, what I’m trying to say here is that to reconnect with your pooch, you also have to understand them more.
The same way your Fido pays close attention to you. So that they can get what you’re trying to say. Or sense your mood at the moment.
Try to read their body language. And soon you’ll also know their likes and dislikes.
This way, you’ll also ensure that you’re giving the right signals. And convey to them that you’re sorry and you love them.
Note: If you got your dog from a previous home or shelter, you may also ask some people from there. So that you’ll have a better understanding of your Fido’s traits.
#6: Quietly stay around them as much as you can
To regain your dog’s trust, you also have to spend time with them every day.
But, as I said earlier, you should give them some space in the meantime as well.
“So, what should I do?”
For now, just simply stay around your dog without interacting with them.
It’s not yet the right time so don’t stay too close to them as they’ll be uncomfortable with it. And that’s the thing that you want to avoid while repairing your relationship.
So, quietly sit across them in the room. Or lie down on the couch next to them.
But still, stay calm, act like they’re invisible, and just do your own thing. Until they give some interest to you or in what you’re doing.
Note: Do this until they get used to your calm presence. Make them realize that you mean no harm to them anymore. And you only want to be friends again.
#7: Talk to them every once in a while
You can also give attention and show love to your pooch without doing any physical contact.
By talking to them as you move around the house. Or while doing some chores.
For example, when you walk past them, greet them “hello” or “hi.” And also, praise them whenever they’re calm or lying down.
But, make sure that you do this in your best ‘dog-voice’ or in a manner similar to ‘baby talk.’
Also, speaking to your Fido will make them feel more connected to you.
Dogs are curious and social fluff balls.
They always want to know what their parents are up to. And they’d love to be part of those things – no matter what they are!
So by talking to your dog from time to time, they’ll have a sense of belonging.
And soon enough, they may start opening up to you again.
If you want to know more tips on how to say sorry to your dog…
Check out this article: 17 Best Ways To Apologize To Your Dog (How-To Guide)
#8: Take them out for walks every day
Another method to reconnect with your dog is by walking them.
One, it’s a nice way to spend quality time.
Two, most Fidos love taking strolls.
Three, walking feels good so this would help lessen their stress and anxiety.
Plus, they’ll be able to sniff around and investigate as much as they can. And also, they’ll meet other pups along the way.
So by walking them, you’d help them associate this positive experience with you.
And as you keep doing this, it can slowly replace the bad things from the past.
“Help! My dog is highly anxious and aggressive when walking.”
If this is your case, this method will be hard to do. As you may struggle to put a leash on your Fido. More so if you walk them out on your own.
So before trying this, make sure to do the things listed above first.
This way, your dog will already be warmed up to your presence.
But if they’re only avoiding you, you may ask help from another person to walk them in the meantime.
Since dogs need at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, based on PDSA.
And if they’re a working breed like German Shepherds, they require at least 2 hours of it daily.
#9: Engage them in their favorite games
Aside from walking (and munching on some snacks), what do dogs enjoy doing the most?
Yes, that’s right. It’s playing.
So, engage your dog in games that they like. Say, fetch or hide and seek.
What to do?
Start by showing them a ball or their favorite toy. Then place it on the floor and let them sniff it. Or you can throw it lightly.
Watch out for their reactions.
If they don’t seem interested, you can find a new toy that’ll catch their attention. Like, puzzle or chew toys.
Once they go to the toy or if they seem interested in the game, speak in an excited manner.
But not overdo it as you might overwhelm or scare them away instead.
Note: If your dog starts being aggressive or protective of their toys, halt at once. Give both you and your dog a time-out. Step away and turn your back on them. Or simply get out of the room.
This is to make your dog realize that fun ends when they’re being aggressive. And also for you to avoid getting stressed and snapping at them.
“How long does a time-out last?”
According to dog trainers, it shouldn’t be more than 3 minutes. Usually, 1 to 2 minutes is enough for most dogs to calm down.
So once you see that your Fido has already settled down, quietly return inside the room or move closer to them.
#10: Always allot time for training
One more proven way to reconnect with your dog is by training them. (At least 15 minutes every day will do.)
“How does this help?”
First, the two of you will spend more time together.
While teaching them some new tricks (or even refreshing old ones) will improve your bond as you’ll work as a team.
Also, dogs are clever animals.
They love using their brains. So they’ll be so much satisfied after learning a thing or two.
Plus, working out your dog’s mind will also tire them out – but in a good way. Since it can reduce stress and make them happily rest right after.
Before you do it, here are some things to consider:
- Manage the situation: Issues like getting into the trash or stealing things can also be prevented. Say, make the trash inaccessible to them. Or put your stuff out of their reach. So, this will help you save time in training.
- Use a clicker to train your dog: Its clicking sound is neutral and it’s also consistent. So your Fido will not be confused whenever they hear it. Click it every time they do something good. Then give them a treat right away to reinforce the behavior.
As well as…
#11: Use positive reinforcement
Dogs will repeat something if it’s rewarded.
Like if they always earn a tasty treat. As well as some praises after doing a behavior.
While on the other hand, they’ll stop doing things that are constantly ignored. Since well, they don’t get much from them.
This is why positive reinforcement is the way to go in training dogs.
It’s trauma-free. Plus, it’s also effective in the long run.
What do experts say about this?
Researchers made a study on positive and negative reinforcement in canines.
To do this, they asked 364 dog parents how they train their Fidos. And here are their answers:
- 11% – play.
- 60% – praise.
- 51% – food rewards.
- 66% – vocal punishment (shouting, talking in a stern voice).
- 12% – physical punishment (e.g., tapping nose, smacking).
The parents were then asked if their dogs have problematic behaviors.
And it was found that undesirable behaviors were seen more in punished Fidos. Compared to dogs who were trained using a reward system.
So this only shows that harsh methods will not do any good to them. As they’ll only make a dog’s behavior even worse.
Note: The undesired behaviors observed were in the study were:
- Extreme anxiety.
- Growling at dogs.
- Separation anxiety.
- Nipping at canines.
- Excessive mounting.
- Repetitive behaviors.
- Eating non-food items.
- Aggression towards people.
- Barking at dogs and humans.
You might also like: Fact Check: Can Hitting A Dog On The Nose Kill it?
#12: Counter condition and desensitize them
“Wait. How are these things done?”
Let me explain it in simpler terms.
First, counter conditioning is changing a dog’s response to something. Like turning a bad association into a good one.
Say, if they’re always hit by a stick. They’ll surely develop a fear of it. As well as the person who holds it.
So whenever they see that object, they may bark, hide, or become aggressive.
They might also avoid the person who’s hitting them. Or they’ll cower every time he or she raises a hand.
This is because the action is similar to when they’re about to be beaten.
While desensitization means gradually exposing a dog to a trigger. Until they’re less bothered by it.
And these two come hand in hand.
“So, how will I do these methods to my fearful dog?”
The detailed steps may vary based on their stressors. But, the concept and goals are pretty much the same.
Say, if you want to reduce your dog’s anxiety towards a stick:
- You have to show it to them first.
- Slowly place it on the ground – far enough to avoid them from getting nervous.
- Then if they see it, quickly give them a treat.
- As you go on, slowly move the stick near them. (Don’t make any sounds yet.)
- Keep rewarding your dog.
Now, if your dog’s already used to the stick’s presence, level up the training.
Ask someone who can hold the stick and make some sounds using it. Like hitting it lightly on the floor.
Start with the least intensity. Then continue the food rewards as your dog sees and hears the object.
But if your pooch starts to feel nervous, go back one step. Then repeat it until they look less bothered.
However, there’s one more thing that you may have to work on
Punished dogs will also be sensitive to touch.
And to know how you can resolve this, watch this short clip:
Note: Do this at least twice a day with 5 minutes per session. But if your dog’s extremely aggressive, you may seek help from a certified dog trainer. This is to avoid the problem from getting worse.
#13: Accept that this will be a tough and long journey
Lastly, go slow and be patient.
Fixing a broken relationship with your dog can be harder than getting their trust for the first time.
This will not only take a few days. As you may see results after months or even years.
Also, if you’re doing your best, don’t beat yourself up too much.
Things may not go smoothly or as you planned sometimes. Plus, you won’t see any immediate results in the first few days.
So don’t think that what you’re doing is pointless. (Unless their behavior seems to get worse day after day.)
Remember, if you keep doing the things above…
Your dog will soon recognize your efforts and true intentions. So, never give up – both on you and your dog. 🙂