Man’s most trusting companion?
Let’s be honest: You probably love your dog more than you love some humans. You spend most of your spare time exercising or cuddling with him. You talk to her just like you’d talk to your human best friend—freely without fear of being judged. The level of love and trust you feel toward your pet is no different than what you feel toward any other family member. But is the feeling mutual? Here’s how to tell if your dog trusts you.
He learns your routines
Rock and Wasp/Shutterstock Trust is perceived differently for humans and animals, says Vicki Stevens, senior marketing communications manager for companion animals at the Humane Society of the United States. Pets rely on routines to feel normalcy and have comfortable, happy lives. So the best way to build a relationship with your dog is to make these routines positive interactions.
If you feed him every day at 8 a.m. or take him for a walk as soon as you get home from work, he becomes conditioned to expect those things at those designated times. Once a routine is set, he’ll be on time to get that food or that walk, and he’ll trust you’ll hold up your end of the arrangement. (If your dog is a new member of the family, beware of these dog training myths that could hurt your puppy.)
A recent study from the University of Japan found that when dogs and their owners stared into each other’s eyes during a 30-minute period, both of their oxytocin levels increased. Oxytocin has also been called the love hormone and the cuddle hormone (see where we’re going with this?). It’s used to help mothers bond with their babies and it spikes when we’re around someone we love and trust. Lead scientist Takefumi Kikusui believes that this result could mean that the dogs were trying to form bonds with their owners—definitely a sign of trust.
Kenny Lamberti, acting vice president of companion animals at H.S.U.S., cautions that since dogs are individuals like humans, staring doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing every time it happens. Body language and environment should be taken into consideration, too. Look out for these signs that your healthy dog is actually sick.