As pet lovers, we want all dogs to like us — unfortunately, some dogs don't take to people that easily. This can be especially concerning when the woofer in question is your roommate's. After all, you're sharing the same space and spending a lot of time together. The last thing you want is a furry flatmate who is fearful of you — or worse, downright doesn't like you. That's where we come in. We've compiled a list of tips and tricks that are sure to garner trust, respect, and even adoration from your roommate's fur-baby.
The first rule of getting a dog to like you is to give them some space. Allowing Fido to adjust to you on their own time will show them that you mean no harm. Avoid running up to the dog or petting them when they don't want to be touched. When you do approach them, closely watch their body language to make sure that they are okay with it.
Speaking of body language, watch Spot's body language to see how they respond to you. Don't approach them if they have their ears laid back or if their tail is tucked. These are signs that the dog is nervous and wants to be left alone. Yawning, lip-licking, and hunkering down can also signal that the dog is uncomfortable. If you see your roommate's dog displaying these signals, it might be a good idea to dial back your efforts.
Body language works both ways, so make sure you're sending the right message to your furry flatmate. Don't stand over the dog, but rather kneel so that you are at their level. Refrain from getting too close to their face since this can make some dogs uneasy. Move slowly and use a soft tone when talking to the dog so as not to startle them.
One of the most effective ways to build rapport with a standoffish pooch is to feed them. Food is the way to most dog's hearts, which is why high-value treats are such a useful tool when training. Yes, food is delicious, but for dogs, food means security, nourishment, and comfort.
Carry treats in your pocket and toss one to your roomie's pup every time you enter the room. If Fido allows it, try hand-feeding them to show them that you mean no harm. It might also help to assume the daily feeding duties too, with your roommate's permission, of course. By supplying all their meals, Fido will learn that you control their food and begin to respect you. Over time, the dog will develop a positive association between you and food, and may even start approaching you for snacks.
Who says you can't buy affection? For play-oriented pooches, a new ball or plushie might be your ticket to their heart. Before you hand over the new toys, rub them on your clothes to make them smell like you. This will help the dog forge positive associations between your scent and play. Don't approach the dog with the toy. Simply toss it on their bed, but make sure Fido sees you doing it. Alternatively, if Fido likes to fetch, try throwing the toy for them to chase. With some luck, they might bring it back to you again and again.
Punishing is the last thing you want to do when trying to build trust and respect with a dog. Studies show that punishment can interfere with the bond between humans and pets. Dogs who are punished are more likely to disengage from people, whereas dogs who receive positive reinforcement will engage with people for longer periods. Rather than scolding the dog, use positive reinforcement when they display a desirable behavior, like not barking at the mailman or staying off the furniture.
Who doesn't enjoy a good stroll? A long dog walk with your furry roommate might just be the way to earn their trust and affection. Pick a quiet walking path and allow the dog to sniff and do their business along the way. Don't rush things. You want this to be a "pawsitive" experience for Fido.
The best tip of all for getting a dog to love you is to be patient. It could take weeks or even months before Fido comes around, but when they do, it will be so worth it. Just keep at it, buy some treats, pay attention to body language, and refrain from scolding them. Soon, you'll have the best friend you never knew you needed.