The best way to apologize to your dog is to give them the two things they love the most, your time and praise. Your dog loves you and wants to spend as much time with you as possible. When combined with lots of praise, your dog will see that you’re no longer mad at them.
We all love our dogs, but every dog owner knows what it’s like to get upset with our pups and yell at them when they didn’t deserve it. The yelling may have triggered a fear response, and now you notice your dog distancing themselves from you.
At this point, you’re probably wondering how to apologize to your dog to make amends. Dogs tend to “live in the moment” and will quickly forget about the yelling. However, if you want to speed up the process, there are a few ways to “apologize” to your dog and get the relationship back to where it was.
Before we get into the details on how to apologize to your dog, let’s start by going over a few of the reasons your dog may distance themselves from you.
Why Your Dog is Afraid of You
Accidents happen from time to time. Maybe you didn’t see your dog right under your feet and accidentally kicked them. Or perhaps you stepped on one of their paws, causing them to yelp.
Regardless of what caused the pain, if you were the one to cause it, they might be afraid and avoid you for a while.
Dogs understand the tone of our voice just as we understand their body language. When your dog makes a mistake (such as urinating in the house), yelling at them does more harm than good.
When you yell at your dog, it creates fear and doesn’t address the behavior you want to change. Proper training will bring improvement. Yelling might make the behavior worse.
Dogs don’t understand why you’re yelling, so they aren’t going to associate it with their bad behavior. For dogs that have been abused in the past, yelling may trigger past trauma.
Improperly disciplining your dog can cause them to become frightened of you.
By putting them in a crate and scolding them because of unwanted behavior, you are increasing anxiety in your dog.
If you show aggression towards your dog, the dog may feel threatened and return the aggression.
If you think you overreacted and improperly disciplined your dog, use the methods below to apologize.
Don’t worry, your dog won’t hold a grudge!
How to Apologize to Your Dog
Tone of Voice
Dogs understand your intentions by your tone of voice. They may not understand the words “sorry” or “I apologize,” but do understand when you are trying to positively interact with them.
When apologizing to your dog, use the tone you use when reinforcing positive behavior (a happy and grateful voice). Be genuine and patient when communicating with your dog. Reassure them that everything is okay and that they are safe.
Don’t Use Treats
When you apologize to your dog, do not use treats. Treats are a great tool when training, but they don’t serve a purpose when apologizing.
When you train your dog, you use treats to reinforce good behavior. When trying to regain your dog’s trust, they haven’t displayed a behavior to be rewarded for. Instead, reserve treats for training and positive behavior.
Spend Time With Your Dog
If your dog responds well to the positive tone of voice, try spending some time with them. Even a few minutes of snuggling or scratching their belly will show them they don’t need to be afraid.
However, if your dog still seems scared of you, don’t force time with them (more on this below).
Gaining Your Dog’s Trust
Once you’ve apologized (by talking in a friendly voice), you may find that your dog is still distant and fearful of you.
This could be from the incident or previous trauma they’ve experienced. It may take time, but be patient with your dog through this process.
Although dogs don’t speak directly to us, they understand us as their owners and protectors.
Chances are your pup isn’t holding a grudge against you and knows your love for them. However, for some dogs, it may take some time for them to trust you again. This can be especially true with dogs who have experienced prior abuse and trauma from a previous home.
Give Space if They Need it
Some dogs will respond well to your time. Other dogs want space. Be sure to give your dog their space if they need it.
Don’t force yourself in their presence if they still seem afraid. Allow them to come to you at their own pace.
Give them a safe place to retreat to, such as their crate, and let them come to you at their own pace. When calling them to come to you, drop to their level and allow them to approach.
Learn from Your Mistakes
If your dog is afraid of you because you improperly disciplined them, it’s important to learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them.
All dog owners know it’s easy to lose patience with your dog, even with persistent training. However, be proactive and learn from your mistakes.
If your frustration comes from training your dog, take a break when you feel yourself starting to lose patience. Try an activity such as playing or walking.
Refrain from your previous behavior of scolding or hitting your dog.
Dogs are Quick to Forgive
The wonderful thing about dogs is that they’re quick to forgive. Whether you accidentally caused physical pain or were too harsh when scolding them, dogs will forgive you. Just talk positively to them, they’ll eventually come around!
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