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5 Signs Your Dog Really Trusts You, According to a Veterinarian

If they're doing these things, they feel safe in your care.

When you have a pet, a relationship of mutual trust is the foundation of your bond. Dogs, in particular, look to their owners to demonstrate that they can feel safe. In fact, recent research seems to suggest that the old way of dog rearing—centered on dominance and the theory that a person must lead the pack as the "alpha"—actually sows distrust in your dog. Instead, experts now recommend building a connection with your pet by establishing routines, while also learning and respecting the animal's cues.

How will you know if it's working? Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, a veterinarian and content creator, shared in a recent TikTok post that there are five key signs your dog really trusts you.

RELATED: Why You Should Never Stop Your Dog From Licking You.

They learn your routine.

Silhouettes of runner and dog on field under golden sunset sky in evening time. Outdoor running. Athletic young man with his dog are running in nature.

If your dog seems to know and follow your routine for feeding, walking, and sleep, this is a pretty good sign that they trust you as their leader. Since they rely on you to meet their fundamental survival needs, they feel most secure knowing that you'll provide these things on a predictable schedule.

Christman says this is a good reason to choose a routine and stick to it: "Once your routine is set, they'll trust that you'll hold up your end of the arrangement."

They take your shoes.

Dog looking guilty laying on stairs with chewed shoes and underwear
Tara Lynn and Co/Shutterstock

Next, Christman says that when your dog steals your shoes, this is another sign of trust and closeness. Yes, many dogs enjoy chewing shoes or get excited by the thrill of the chase when you come to retrieve your favorite pair. However, experts explain that dogs target shoes in particular because they smell distinctly like their owners, which may be comforting.

You understand their body language.

Bernese Mountain Dog
Oleg Mitkevych/Shutterstock

Since dogs can't use words to communicate with us, it's especially important to tune into their body language. When you take note of whether they're leaning in or away and demonstrate respect for their physical boundaries, this helps them feel secure.

"The more you read their body language, the more they're going to trust you," Christman says.

RELATED: I'm a Veterinarian and These Are the Top 5 Neediest Dog Breeds.

They sleep in your bedroom.

woman sleeping with dog on bed

Where your dog sleeps can also speak volumes about whether or not they trust you. "Do they sleep in the room with you, or in the bed with you? Consider it a gift. They sleep where they feel safe and trusted," Christman notes.

Of course, many dogs will sleep wherever you put their bed. If you're looking to build trust, consider keeping it in your room so that they learn to feel safest near you.

They make a lot of eye contact.

Cute Yorkshire terrier lying down on the floor and looking at camera.

Finally, if you notice your dog locking eyes with you, this could be another good sign that they feel safe in your presence. "One of the ways dogs bond with you is through eye contact. It helps create trust," says Christman.

The American Kennel Club says that just as humans look deeply into one another's eyes to show adoration, "dogs will stare at their owners to express affection. In fact, mutual staring between humans and dogs releases oxytocin, known as the love hormone," they write. "This chemical plays an important role in bonding and boosts feelings of love and trust. The same hormone that is released when a new mother looks at her baby is also triggered when you look at your dog."

However, if your pet is new to the family, too much eye contact can have the opposite effect by intimidating them. Let your dog come to you until it's clear that they feel safe.

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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