We’ve seen it in videos.
Or it happened to us.
The moment when your dog shows complete trust in you.
It may be a snuggle from a former fearful dog.
Or soft puppy eyes from a happy pooch.
There’s nothing like that feeling when your dog trusts you.
But how do you know if it’s case?
Keep on reading to find out:
- 17 signs that your dog trusts you.
- 2 sleeping positions that indicate your dog’s trust in you.
- Whether your dog staring at you could be a sign of trust.
- And much, much more…
How do you know if your dog trusts you?
You know that your dog trusts you when they display confident behavior. This includes soft eye contact and relaxed posture. You also know if they: try to comfort you, want to be near you for affection, want to play with you, see you as a safe space, and know your daily routine.
17 signs your dog trusts you
#1: They display confident behavior
How do you define a confident dog?
They are able to adjust to new people and places.
And ignore loud stimulants like barking dogs or noisy cars.
They follow training commands despite distractions.
Confident dogs are active learners.
These are pups who learn from basic training which behaviors allow them to earn rewards.
Confident dogs are also relaxed.
Dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell says that a relaxed dog does the following:
- Relaxed tongue.
- Wants belly rubs.
- Tail wagging fast.
- Slightly open mouth.
- Squinty or blinking eyes.
“How do I get a confident dog?”
The sure way to do it is to socialize properly while they are still puppies.
However, some dogs are adopted from bad situations.
Or they had traumatic experiences.
They are fearful or anxious. Which means that they display these behaviors:
If your dog checks most of the list above, take the time to find a trainer for your dog.
Get one that specializes in desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques.
The training requires exposing your dog to what they fear.
But only in low doses. And gradually increasing when your dog gets comfortable.
An example of desensitization and counter conditioning
If your dog reacts poorly to new dogs, here is a possible training exercise:
Step 1: Introduce your dog to the exercise by using another dog, that’s not reactive. Put some distance between the two dogs.
Chances are your dog will look at the new pooch. If your dog continues to stare and is unresponsive when you call their name. Move back a few paces.
Step 2: Keep doing Step 1 until your dog turns back to you. Immediately, mark the behavior with a click and give a treat.
Step 3: Do it a few more times until your dog automatically turns back to you for a treat.
Step 4: If your dog displays signs of being relaxed, move a few steps closer to the other dog.
Step 5: Do Steps 1 to 4. Gradually decreasing the distance between the two dogs.
Note: Always look out for your dog’s body language. If they are showing signs of stress, back away and start again.
The point of this exercise is letting your dog have positive associations with what they fear.
It will show your dog that they have nothing to be scared of.
#2: Your doggo knows your daily schedule
Are there mornings when you wake up to a wet nose snuffling at your face?
As if to say,
“Hooman! It’s time to get up!”
Your doggo knows how your schedule goes.
It’s because they spend so much time with you, day in and day out.
Dogs love routine. And if you establish one, they will know what to expect in all hours of the day.
Give your dog positive associations with their routine.
And they will be more excited to do it with you.
#3: They want pets
Wary dogs will naturally shy away from people they don’t know.
But if your dog initiates petting it’s a sign that they trust you.
Did you know evidence indicates that dogs like petting more than a “Good doggy”?
The researchers studied shelter dogs and owned dogs.
They did 2 kinds of experiments.
First, an assessment of the dog’s preference between vocal praise and petting in three situations:
- Owned dogs with owners.
- Owned dogs with strangers.
- Shelter dogs with strangers.
In all 3, the dogs liked pets over vocal praise.
In the second one, shelter dogs were tested with a stranger and owned dogs with their owners.
Interactions with the dogs were:
- Only petting.
- Only vocal praise.
- Alternate petting and praise.
Again, the dogs preferred petting in all scenarios.
They even went near the human for petting. The dogs also didn’t show signs that they were bored of the interaction.
The researchers concluded that touch was an important part of the dog-human interaction.
So what are you waiting for?
Go and give your dog some love right now!
#4: Full body wiggles
This happens when your dog greets you and they’re so happy.
Their tail doesn’t just wag.
Their whole body does, too.
It’s important that the whole body including the tail is wiggling.
A wagging tail doesn’t mean that your dog’s comfortable.
It doesn’t mean that your dog’s friendly, either.
Slow wags with tail held high means an interested pooch that still wants to know more about the situation.
A wagging tail to ignore is when the dog’s barking at you with a hard stare and tense posture.
#5: Slimy licks
Licking is one way of showing affection.
The Kennel Club reveals that this is normal behavior for our pooches.
Momma dogs lick their puppies to comfort them.
My friend’s dog, Hela, did that with her litter.
Whenever they’d cry, Hela’s ears would prick up.
And she would nose over them, licking the crying puppy in the mouth.
Even adult dogs do this with their friends.
But it doesn’t mean that you should let your dog lick everyone.
It could be dangerous for you, a dog’s mouth contains bacteria and germs harmful to us.
And licking you could harm your dog.
Chemicals from the things you touched can stay on your skin for hours.
- Household cleaners.
Stopping your dog from licking uses a simple training exercise of removing what your dog wants to lick.
Watch this video for tips on how to let your pooch know that isn’t time for licks:
#6: Relaxed ears
Your dog’s ears tell a lot about what they’re feeling.
The ASPCA tells us that ears have different positions for different emotions.
Erect and forward ears mean that your dog is alert to what they hear.
Dogs with flattened, pulled back, or forward ears show aggression. It’s accompanied with bared teeth or growls.
Fearful dogs will crouch low to the ground with very flattened ears.
But comfortable pooches will have their ears in their natural position. They could be slightly back or held out to the sides.
#7: “I wanna sleep with my hooman”
Sleeping is a vulnerable time for dogs.
When your dog does it with you, they’re showing complete trust.
Sleeping next to you gives your pooch a sense of comfort.
Puppies often sleep side by side or next to their mother.
This gives them warmth and comfort.
And as your dog has grown, they’re searching for that same feeling with you.
Check out also: 5 reasons why dogs sleep with their bum facing you
#8: They sleep with belly showing or on their side
A relaxed body indicates that your dog is comfortable.
Sleeping on their side requires a dog to slip into a deep sleep.
The belly is one of the most vulnerable spots in your dog’s body.
And when they show it to you, it means that they trust you will not hurt them.
According to PetMD, the sleeping positions above indicate that your dog feels safe in that space.
#9: Your dog chooses you over food
Food is the ultimate resource for dogs.
The presence of 1 treat has dogs paying complete attention to the treat giver.
In short, food is very important to our pooches.
So if they choose you over a treat, it shows how much they trust you.
Research has shown that dogs prefer their dog parent’s praise over food.
The researchers did 2 experiments on 13 dogs.
The dogs were first trained to associate 3 objects with: food, owner’s praise, and no reward.
An MRI machine recorded their brain activity in the ventral caudate region. This serves as the reward center of the dog’s brain.
4 dogs recorded strong brain activity for the object associated with the owner’s praise.
9 of the dogs showed activity for both food and owner’s praise.
Only 2 dogs showed more activity with the object for food.
Behavioral experiment: Y-shaped maze
The researchers let the dogs choose between 2 paths in a Y-shaped maze.
One path led to the owner and the other to food.
They released the dogs multiple times into the maze to see if their choices would support the first experiment’s results.
Most of the dogs alternated between the two choices.
But the dogs with strong brain activity for praise, chose their owner 80% – 90% of the time.
#10: They share stuff with you
Dogs know how to share.
This study found that dogs share food with those they are familiar with.
The experiment allowed dogs to choose whether to give treats to their partner dogs or not.
One partner was a familiar dog, while the other was a stranger.
Results showed that the dogs would choose to give treats to the familiar partner dog.
What else can dogs share?
Dogs can share their toys with you.
They can see their toys as high-value rewards.
But still let you take it from them.
It shows that your dog trusts you not to take their toy away forever.
#11: Your dog checks if you’re okay
It’s a quiet morning and you’re working from home.
You get a surprise when an adorable face peeks in the door.
It’s your dog’s hourly check-in with you.
They want to see if their owners are still alive and kicking.
Dogs have such amazing senses.
Many dogs have even saved lives by sensing changes in the person’s body.
In 2012, Duke, a dog adopted by the Brousseau family saved their baby girl’s life.
One night, the parents woke up because of Duke’s odd behavior.
He jumped up on their bed and was shaking so badly.
It was the first time he had done this.
The parents suspected something was wrong to make Duke act that way.
They rushed to the baby’s room and found that she wasn’t breathing.
Without Duke’s help, they wouldn’t have called 911 on time.
The mother, Kate Brousseau, said, “I think it’s his way of reciprocating what we did for him.”
#12: They greet you when you come home
Happy reunions when you get home are a must.
There’s nothing like a happy dog to brighten up your day.
And your dog hasn’t seen you for quite some time.
It’s understandable that their body is wiggling with excitement and happiness.
#13: Play bows all the way
Would you want to play with someone you don’t trust?
Well neither does your dog.
Dogs do the play bow to invite playtime.
They can do it to:
- Other dogs.
- Another person.
It’s a common dog gesture that shows it’s time for fun.
“What do I do with a play bow?”
Well, play with your dog, of course.
Playtime is bonding time.
Get your dog’s favorite toy. Or play your dog’s favorite game.
Tune out from life’s responsibilities for 5 minutes.
And have some fun with your pup!
#14: They comfort you when you’re sad
Has this thought crossed your mind?
“It’s really weird how my dog seems to understand me.”
But they really can.
They do it in the same way they interact with other doggos.
They read our body language. And sense when we’re not feeling so great.
This study found that dogs know the difference between human feelings.
The researchers showed them pictures of human or dog faces with the following emotions:
They paired the pictures with the equivalent noise for each emotion.
When they heard it, the dogs would look longer at the picture that corresponded with the sound.
This was something that only humans could do.
But the experiment showed that dogs are also capable of recognizing what an angry or a happy person looked like.
“If dogs know when I’m sad, how do they comfort me?”
Research shows that dogs will try to comfort humans if they start to cry.
Dogs will do the following things:
The study suggests that it may be a learned behavior but it indicates that dogs can express empathy. Because they can recognize the signs of a sad hooman.
#15: They trust you to fix what’s broken
Dogs will bring broken things such as toys to you.
They are confident in your ability to make everything better.
It’s like they’re saying,
“Please, hooman. Can you make my toy better?”
One of my friends has a big, goofy Rottweiler named Duchess.
Duchess loves playing with tennis balls.
She would do a “sit” whenever the yellow ball appeared.
But Duchess was a Rottie and the tennis ball fit in her mouth. She also loved biting it.
So it wasn’t long before the ball gave up on her.
A sad Rottie dropped it before her hoomans.
She nudged it toward them, sat, and gave puppy dog eyes.
Her owner took the damaged ball and replaced it with a new one.
Duchess’ eyes widened.
And the look on her face was like,
“How da heck did you do that, hooman?”
Needless to say, Duchess’ dog parent “repaired” many tennis balls after that.
#16: Your dog makes eye contact
Dogs communicate a lot with their eyes.
A hard stare at an unfamiliar person or dog, means,
“Why you lookin at me, huh?”
Long eye contact isn’t something that dogs do with other dogs.
They will avert their gaze to show that they mean no harm.
Friendly dogs may lock eyes during a play bow.
But they will look away quickly.
It’s different with humans.
A dog who trusts its human will often make soft eye contact.
They will be relaxed and they have squinty eyes.
A study found higher levels of oxytocin in dogs who stared at their humans for 30 minutes.
This is the hormone known to build relationships and give that warm fuzzy feeling.
Did you know that it’s what makes moms and their babies bond?
Other research also indicates that oxytocin helps your dog to focus on positive emotions and ignore negative ones.
In the experiment, scientists injected dogs with the hormone.
Then showed them pictures of people with happy and angry expressions.
The dogs focused more on the happy expressions.
Analysis of their eye movement indicated that they didn’t find the angry faces threatening.
This shows that spending time with your dog to build that bond produces oxytocin.
And AKC says that the hormone relieves social anxiety and encourages positive social behavior.
#17: You’re the “safe space” for your doggo
Does your dog run to you in scary situations?
If they run to you for protection, it shows that they see you as a “safe space”.
But this is not the “safe space” that your doggo needs.
What they need is to be able to relax around you.
Or with other people and animals.
“How do I let my dog know that it’s okay to relax?”
Fearful and anxious dogs get scared easily.
And giving the right care and training is difficult.
But even then, it’s important to build trust first. Let your dog know that you don’t mean harm.
If your dog gets scared of something, stay calm.
Coddling them when they’re in this state will encourage them to repeat the behavior.
Give them a pat or some soothing noises.
But don’t react in the face of your dog’s fear.
And gently lead them away.
Warning: Fearful and anxious dogs can be treated with counter conditioning and desensitization training. Schedule an appointment with an animal behaviorist or a veterinary behaviorist.
Before you do that, you can take note of your dog’s triggers.
They can be:
- Other dogs.
- New places.
- Loud sounds.
- Certain actions (like preparing to go outside).
Recognizing their triggers lets you know what to avoid. Especially when your dog hasn’t finished their training.