Did you know, there are things we can do that will help develop a trusting relationship. There is no better present to give your sidekick, other than one which involves positive interactions. Susan Friedman defines trust as the certainty that an interaction will lead to positive outcomes, therefore interaction increases. Martin (2013) highlights how an animal that trusts will willingly approach us, whereas one that does not will display escape behaviours.
When we discuss trust, it is imperative to recognise that it is a complex subject, and that there are many levels of trust. Our aim is to create a 'trust account' that has lots of positive deposits, in return this will allow for withdrawals that inevitably occur (ibid).
Below I highlight a few key components to building a trusting relationship.
The key to adding "deposits" is through positive reinforcement and through giving them control by offering choice.
“Ultimately, reward-based training is less stressful or painful for the dog, and, hence, safer for the owner,” (Herron., Shofer and Reisner., 2009). Rooney and Cowan (2011) highlight how previous reinforcement based training increases the bond between dog and owner. The anticipation of reinforcement increases motivation thus increasing the dogs aptitude to learn. Epstein (1985) highlights how emotional reactions are involved in the outcome of the training method we use.
Reinforcement should in essence elicit a pleasant emotional response, and that of which organisms SEEK. Therefore dogs trained using positive reinforcement have a lower number of undesirable behaviours (Blackwell. et al. 2008).
Some basic examples of using positive reinforcement.
Remember you are building your trust account, every single time you use positive reinforcement.
Understanding the mechanisms of choice will help us to better understand behaviour (Domjan 2015). When working with any domestic dog, it is imperative we consider how choice can impact their daily life. We can use training and set ups that encourage the dog to make a motivational choice. Therefore, giving the dog a perception of control. When we do this, it encourages the dog to be autonomous, which in return is associated with intrinsic motivation (Arden 2020). TheDoGenius (2020) highlights how intrinsic reinforcers are those that the dog creates themselves, chemical cascades, emotions and feelings. They are also described as consequences generated by the behaviour (O'Heare 2017). All the above encourages greater interest, cognitive flexibility and creativity. (Arden 2020).
Bekoff (2019) adapts the well known welfare indicators, the five freedoms into ten. He highlights how Freedoms 6 to 10 "focus on freedoms to be a dog".