Most handlers understand the importance of respect in their relationship with their dog; an equally important component is trust. Earning your dogs trust can transform your partnership.
You can develop it by practicing consistency and by thinking through situations from your dog’s perspective.
Consistency is your greatest ally and has the ability to turn what is an unclear or gray training area, to black and white.
When you’re consistent, your dog knows what is expected of him every time. It makes learning easier and instills confidence. It fosters your timing and feel as a handler. The more consistent you are, in both the way you cue your dog and how often you work with him, the faster he will progress through his training.
Thinking through situations from your dog’s perspective also develops trust. For example, if your dog sliced his flank when driving directly away from you, you wouldn’t want to shout at him from that position—why? Because doing so could easily lead to your dog losing confidence and looking at you on the drive.
Imagine someone was standing directly behind you, such that you couldn’t see them out of your peripheral vision, and then shouted at you.
Rather than trying to listen to what they’re saying, most people would turn around nervously, to be able to see the body language and position of the person. Dogs will do the same thing.
You’d be better off not trying to make a correction from directly behind your dog and instead, readjust your position, so that you are within his peripheral vision and he can see you before you speak to correct him.
This is just one of many examples of considering things from your dogs perspective.
Once your dog trusts you, he’ll be more willing to accept your input, even in difficult situations; it will enrich your relationship and bond, both on and off the trial field.