Dogs are pack animals and fully understand the value of loyalty. They are hard-wired to be loyal to the pack -- your family, and the leader, you. If you have a new dog who has not been with you very long, you may need to coax her along.
Step back and allow your dog to come to you. Dogs are inherently loyal and want to please you, but if you have a dog who is skittish or has been abused by a previous owner, it may take time. Give your dog time and space and do not force intimacy. Some dogs, especially those who have been neglected, abused, mistreated or misunderstood by a former owner, will be timid around you. Loyalty stems from trust and trust only comes in time. Give your dog the time he needs to overcome any emotional issues he may have.
Train your dog using positive reinforcement techniques only. Never use outdated harsh corrections or punishment to get your point across. Your dog will come to understand that you will not be a source of pain and fear, but of love and patience. When training your dog to perform certain acts such as sitting, staying, down and come, use treats and praise to reward her for her accomplishments. Never punish your dog if she makes housebreaking mistakes in the house. Simply clean it up and resolve to walk her more often or watch for signs she needs to go out.
Feed your dog and see to all his needs. There's a saying in dog training: "All good things come from you." This means your dog's food, treats, grooming, walks, playtime, outings, toys and affection all come from you. This is especially important if the dog has bonded with someone else in the household and you want him to be loyal to only one person. That person should be the one from whom all good things come. Once your dog sees you as the person who meets all his needs, his loyalty will come naturally.
- You never have to "make" a dog loyal, it is part of a dog's nature to protect his home and family. If your dog is showing disloyalty by constantly running away, hiding behind you instead of protecting you and keeping his distance from you, he may have serious psychological issues for which you should seek professional help.
- Never let a child near a dog who is showing signs of skittishness or fear. Dogs who are normally safe may become fear-biters when stressed.
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.