There is something special about coming home from a long day and being met by the family dog. Those of you who are dog owners know exactly what we are talking about. Loyal dogs are dependable and they will want to spend time with you when nobody else does. They don’t judge their owners by anything other than the way that they are treated by them. Loyal dogs are there when you’re happy and when you’re not. They serve as companions and playmates. Having said this, not all dogs are loyal so the issue becomes, how do you instill loyalty into your dog? Here are 20 tips on how to make your dog the most loyal pet possible:
1. Show him that you are the leader
Because dogs are pack animals and they will follow the leader by nature this is one of the first things that you need to do. Establish your alpha status with your dog and he will understand that you are the boss. He’ll naturally follow your lead. This doesn’t mean that you need to bully your beloved pet, it just means that you need to be loving yet firm. Once he understands that you are the “leader of the pack,” so to speak, he will have a greater level of respect and loyalty towards you. Establish your position as pack leader by asking your dog to work. Take him on a walk before you feed him. And just as you don’t give affection unless your dog is in a calm-submissive state, don’t give food until your dog acts calm and submissive.
2. Trust inspires loyalty
When you bring a new dog into your home it may take time to form the bonds of a loving relationship. Puppies are the easy ones because they are naturally dependent, but adult dogs may have a harder time learning to trust, especially if they have been neglected or abused by a previous owner. Establishing trust is vital between a dog of any age and their owner if there is going to be a degree of loyalty. The way to help a dog understand that he can trust you is to not do anything that would shatter his faith in you. This includes hitting, yelling or depriving him of food, shelter or affection. Provide the dog with what he reasonably needs and if you have a bad day, avoid taking it out on him.
3. Be selective about the breed that you choose
Some dog breeds are naturally more loyal than others. If you are at the stage of considering a new pet, do your research so you will know which dog breeds tend to be more eager to please. Most dogs are this way but there are a few types that have a tendency to be more independent. This is not to say that they won’t be loyal to you, but there is a better chance of increasing loyalty by going with a friendlier breed to begin with. Also consider whether you want the dog to be more loyal to you, or a single member of your household or if you want them to be a family dog with strong ties to the entire family.
4. Be mindful of your dog’s emotional state
It’s amazing how many people do not stop to consider that dogs have a certain level of understanding and intelligence, and although it’s not as high as in most humans, they process thoughts and emotions. They feel pain, comfort, happiness, sadness, depression, fear, confidence, trust distrust and a range of other emotions. Most dogs are a lot smarter than people give them credit for so it’s important to assess where your dog is at emotionally. For example, if you have a dog who is fearful of you, it’s best to coax gently, but don’t force intimacy. Let him come to you on his own terms, but do keep trying. An abused dog who is experiencing anxiety may need time and space to heal. Once he discovers that you are not a person that hurts him or treats him badly, he’ll begin to come around on his own. Every dog is an individual and it’s important to treat them as such. When he comes to trust you, then he will be more loyal to you.
5. Use only positive reinforcement for training
Positive reinforcement techniques are by far superior to threatening or intimidating your dog. Physical punishment and yelling will either create a dislike between the dog and you or it will break your pups spirit. In order to have a well rounded dog, it’s important to train them with firm consistency and avoid hitting or screaming because it is counterproductive and could lead to distrust and a lesser degree of loyalty.
6. Patience is a virtue
All dogs need to be taught how to behave in and outside of the home. This includes potty training, which toys are his and which are not, staying off of tables and countertops, not biting and not jumping up for starters. They won’t know that they’re doing anything wrong unless you teach them, but if you want your dog to bond with you, these things must be done the correct way. You must be consistent and firm but it’s also important to be patient with your dog because there are times when he is going to frustrate you terribly. Overreacting can cause him to be afraid of you and this isn’t the goal at all. Be patient and continue to be firm without dishing out berating or harsh retribution when he makes a mistake.
7. Acknowledge your dog when you get home from work
If you are gone for several hours during the day, the odds are that your dog is going to be excited to see you and meet you at the door. This is a form of loyalty and it is cause for celebration. If you want him to continue to be happy to see you then give him an acknowledgement when he makes an effort to greet you. Talk to him and let him know that you are just as glad to see him. Give him a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ear. If he makes himself physically available to you, make some type of friendly gesture that includes physical contact, indicating that you approve and are pleased by his actions. Even if you’re tired and just want to sit down, it only takes a few seconds to let your pooch know that he is appreciated and very much loved. It’s a mistake to brush your dog off if you want him to be loyal to you.
8. Give your dog rewards
When you teach your dog nifty tricks such as sitting, fetching or other activities, give him a reward for doing such a good job. A simple tasty and healthy doggie snack will make him feel special and he will see you as somebody who gives him good things that he likes. Plus he will enjoy spending a little extra time with you. These are the moments when bonding occurs between you are your pet and it will encourage his loyalty.
9. Comfort your dog if he is scared
Dogs aren’t all fearless creatures. They get scared just like the rest of us do and there are quite a few different things that can frighten them. Some dogs are afraid of loud thunder storms with lightning. Others are afraid of honking horns, gunshots, fireworks or perhaps even strangers who come to visit you. It doesn’t matter the cause, you should let your dog know that you’re there for them when they’re afraid. Talk to your dog and give him reassurance in a calm and soothing voice. It will make him feel better. If he wants to be near you after he’s been frightened then let him. Show him that there is nothing to be afraid of and give him the comfort that he needs at the time whenever possible. This will help to build his trust in you and consequently, his loyalty to you.
10. Proper training is key to loyalty
While some dog breeds tend to be more friendly and eager to please than others, most dogs have a natural instinct to be loyal to the humans that they love and respect. Even if your dog has a temperament that is energetic, on the aggressive side, stubborn, or manipulative, it doesn’t mean that he cannot be loyal to you. Proper training and consistency is the key to fostering a relationship that will make your dog feel a sense of loyalty to you. When you are a source of comfort and happiness for your dog, his loyalty will come more naturally. Show him respect and he is more likely to return the favor.
11. Set the example and be loyal to your dog
When you are loyal to your dog, you increase the odds of him being loyal to you in return. This is done by acknowledging him when he wants to be in your company, keeping his food and water dish filled so he doesn’t go without these important things that he needs. Supply him with a warm and comfortable place to sleep, protect him from harm, give him love and attention and don’t let anyone else treat him unfairly. When you become his protector and champion, he is far more likely to be loyal to you. In short, show him love and affection and make sure that all of his physical and emotional needs are met. By doing so, you will become the most important person in his life.
12. Schedule play times and daily walks
If your pet is healthy enough to go for daily walks, put him on a leash and take him for a stroll around the neighborhood. He’ll appreciate the time that you spend with him and once he becomes aware that there is a certain time of the day that the two of you go walking, he’ll come to look forward to it. The exercise is good for both of you and it will give you additional bonding time. While you’re at it, try to establish a routine time that you spend a little time playing with him or her. This is another way to bond with your dog and to encourage loyalty. Feed your dog and see to all his needs. There’s a saying in dog training: “All good things come from you.” This means your dog’s food, treats, grooming, walks, playtime, outings, toys and affection all come from you. This is especially important if the dog has bonded with someone else in the household and you want him to be loyal to only one person. That person should be the one from whom all good things come. Once your dog sees you as the person who meets all his needs, his loyalty will come naturally.
13. Show your dog that you trust him
This is another way that you can build loyalty in your dog. Most canines are eager to please their owners and when your dog feels that he is making you happy, he is going to be happier himself. When he’s constantly criticized, especially for things that he hasn’t even done yet, he understands that you don’t trust him. Once you’ve completed his training and he understands what he should and shouldn’t do, don’t jump to the conclusion that he’s automatically going to do something that he shouldn’t. A good example is breaking our dog from getting on the table and taking food off of plates or serving platters. He may know that he isn’t supposed to get on the table, but don’t scold him if he hasn’t even made a move to do it. He may cast a longing eye in the direction of the food, but don’t berate him and utter threats of punishment to him. Only take the appropriate action if he actually makes a move for it.
14. Your dog is an individual
Every dog has their own unique individual personality. There are things that can be generalized about certain breeds, but your dog is not “just like” any other dog past or present, he is his own dog and he has individual tastes, preferences and ways of thinking. if your dog comes from a breed that is known to be difficult to train, he may in fact he more of a challenge, but then again, he may not. Try not to pre-judge your dog until after you’ve gotten to know him and to understand more about his temperament. Practically any dog can be raised to be a loving, affectionate and loyal companion.
15. Talk to him often
This is an important part of being a dog owner. Dogs need attention and they like to be talked to by their owners. So many owners do not realize that their dogs learn to understand what you are saying and what you mean when you talk to them by the tone of your voice and the inflections that you use. Your dog will know if you are angry, happy, sad or frustrated so watch the tone of your voice and communicate with him often. If you have more positive talk times with your dog then he will associate the sound of your voice with something that he likes as opposed to something that creates a sense of dread in him.
16. Give him his own domain
This is another important thing that many pet owners don’t stop to consider. Your dog may live in your home with you, and it may be your house, but he also needs something to call his own. Dogs can become attached to places and things as well as people do. They form attachments to their favorite toys and will drag them all over the house. Start by choosing a comfortable area to place his bed. Make sure that it is comfortable for him and that he knows this is his spot. It’s best if his area is out of the way of the main foot traffic because there will be times when he just wants to get away from everyone, particularly if you have household guests. He needs to feel like he has his own space. This means that you and everyone else will respect his space where he is free to have his favorite toys around as well. When he is surrounded by things that are familiar to him he will feel comforted and more secure in the place that he calls home. When he wants to be by himself, make sure that he is healthy and then let him have a little space to himself. This is a sign that you have respect for him.
17. Let him know that he is important
Your dog watches you and he knows when you are playing and having a good time. Try to include him regularly whenever it is appropriate. Interactions will help to strengthen the bond that you have with him. If you continually leave him out, he may begin to feel isolated and left out. It’s important to remember that dogs have feelings too. Think about how you would feel if you were constantly left out when everyone else in the family was having a good time. Encourage games that he can join in on. Play a game of fetch with your dog. Throw a ball or frisbee for him to chase. This is particularly important if your dog is one of the more active breeds that need a lot of exercise. It’s no fun to be bored and to have nothing to do so keep him entertained and feeling like he’s a part of the family and this will help to promote a greater sense of loyalty towards you and other members of the family.
18. Make your house a dog friendly place
By making your home an environment that is safe for your pet to live you are making him more comfortable and in addition, you’re lessening the chances that he will be harmed or get into trouble. Training can help your pet to understand what he should and shouldn’t do, but it’s always good to remove temptation out of his reach. By doing this, you lessen the incidences of misbehavior and the need to correct your pet. Avoid leaving plates full of food within his reach. While it may seem cool to prove to your friends that your dog is so well trained that he will resist stealing a big juicy pork chop off of your plate, it’s also unfair to him to place him in the position of having to make the choice. Be kind to your pet and consider how he feels. Keep your shoes up while he is teething. Even if you give him chew toys to satisfy his need to chew, he is more likely to make mistakes while he is still learning. Dog proofing your home is the more merciful way to train your pet and it shows that you are a responsible pet owner that cares about your dog’s well being. The same goes for when you and your dog are playing outside. Keep your dog in a controlled setting whenever possible so there is less chance that he will make mistakes that require your intervention and possible disciplinary actions.
19. If your dog shows consistent disloyal behaviors and does not respond to your efforts, seek professional help for him.
You should not need to exert too much effort to make your dog feel loyal to you since this is something that most of them do instinctively. When you’ve done all of the right things and you have a dog who is afraid of you, hides from you and your family, does not protect the home or his family members and keeps his distance, he may have psychological issues that require attention. If he acts this way and does not respond to your efforts over time, be patient and don’t blame the dog because it is not his fault. It is rare when a dog does not eventually come around to a new owner, but it does happen from time to time. Consult with your veterinarian about a trained professional who may be able to give your dog the help that he needs.
20. Spend time cuddling with your dog
Physical contact is something that both people and dogs crave. Try to spend time holding your dog regularly. As your pet will allow, share time daily to give love by touching him lovingly and gently. Let him know that your hands are not going to bring him pain, but rather, deliver love and comfort. Some dogs are just as content to lie by your feet and lean up against you, just to make contact. This is instinctual and it is a sign that they are trying to bond with you. Try to avoid pushing your dog away when he just wants to be near you. You don’t need to let you pup maul you. If he gets too rowdy or pushy, let him know what the limits are, but do so lovingly and as gently as possible so he will know that it’s okay to cuddle. You may just need to show him the limits because he won’t know unless you teach him.