Trust, does your dog trust you?


The door opened and we stepped inside.  I paid close attention to Elsa's body language as the doors closed again behind us.  It had been six years since she'd been in an elevator.  Now as an adult and only dog, there would be more focus on where we were.  But she also had a great deal of life experience to lean on; that and our steadfast bond of care, protection and trust to rely on. 

Trust is so important when dogs are dealing with anything that they are unsure of.  Trust between a guardian and their canine is something that is built over time.  Forged by a history of  the "I got your back" sense of security.  Trust grows with every experience that you prove your  unwavering "step up" response for your dog.  With this type of trust, your dog will naturally look to rely on you.

As Elsa and I took our elevator ride I could see that she was a bit concerned when the transport box shook a bit.  Her pupils dilated slightly as the doors opened again.  We calmly stepped out as I thought about our next ride.  I was going to be proactive, because this elevator had a  few shakes in it.  

Armed with a bra full of treats (somewhere I keep my treats when wearing yoga pants) we made our way to the elevator again.  I was ready for this trip.  Elsa had no problem getting into the elevator.  It was just when it shook that she didn't like it, so out came the treats and sit.  I kept myself as calm and cool as a cucumber  :)  I watched for moments of calm and dished out the goods.  As the doors opened and she prepared to bolt out the door, I stopped.  We were not charging out of the elevator; that would be like running from the scary monster.  I asked for a sit, watch for a calm reaction, rewarded that and then we made our low key exit in a relaxed state.  

The next elevator ride was much better.  Elsa focused on listening to my requests and treats.  After a few more rides she was only slightly reacting to the "shake" moment of one particular elevator.  By linking the elevator with treats, it was then a different experience.  Treats were only given inside the elevator making being in the elevator much better than getting out.  If she saw the open door as a trigger to run; we had to sit with an open door then calmly exit.  

Having the ground move under your feet can be a very freaky thing for a dog.  Elevator visits should definitely be on the puppy socializing list.  Elsa was introduced to elevators as a youngster and it definitely helped her when she was reintroduced as a six year old. 

BUT, trust as a reliable leader can never be underestimated.