I was in my yard the other day playing with a football and my dog was nearby. I was kicking the ball against the wall when my dog was walking past, I didn't see him and accidentally kicked him in the side toppling him over.

After crying out in pain, he slinked away and wouldn't come to me when I called him. It's been 2 days now and he is still behaving like this. He will move when he sees me coming or if I corner him and try to pet him, he puts his tail between his legs and cower.

This is my dog of nearly 4 years, a dog that would come to meet me at the gate or come running at a call when going for a walk. How can I gain his trust back and show him that I mean no harm?

  • 7
    Short answer: cover your entire hand in a light coating of peanut butter and offer it up to your dog.
    – JoshDM
    Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 0:43
  • 4
    @JoshDM I wouldn't know whether to expect a lick or a bite.
    – iKlsR
    Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 21:57
  • 12
    You want him to trust you, you have to trust him. :)
    – JoshDM
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 1:30

3 Answers 3


If it means anything to you, dogs have a very high tolerance for pain, so when they scream out it is more because of them being startled or shocked than because of pain. I accidentally closed a door on my dogs tail, not hard but the startle caused him to let out a loud yelp.

He will regain trust you in over time, but an important thing to remember for the future is that dog psychology is VERY different than human psychology. Your first reaction if you accidentally hurt a child is to immediately fawn over the child and shower him/her with affection. The child needs to cognitively recognize the accident to get over it.

When you immediately get emotional, nurturing and reactive after an accident then you are teaching the dog through your nurturing that you are rewarding them for feeling scared. Nurturing is a reward for wanted behaviour so in the dogs mind you are telling the dog it is right to be scared and anxious about the very person or situation involved in the accident.

The best thing to do is to check the dog for injury, then immediately move on and try to get the dog to not dwell on what happened. After the dog is calm again, give them a treat to reward them having calmed down and give them extra affection then. It is never a good idea to give affection to a dog in emotional distress (physical distress is a bit different).

You will find the dog will move past the incident rather quickly because the dogs ancestors don't dwell on accidents. They make their intentions very known through deliberate communication and action. Dogs also live in the present. They don't dwell on past memories, their memories of what happened in the past are mostly emotional based and not event based. Eg. they smell the grounds of a dog park where they were attacked by another dog and they get an emotional surge of fear. The fear is an automatic reaction.


Sorry to read about the accident, but these kind of things happen. First of all, I think that two days is very little time so far in order to let the dog soak in what happened, don't push it and you will see that dogs are very forgiving.

Don't beat yourself up too much, it was an accident and you need to let the dog recover and regain his trust, I think that if you don't push it too much and project a positive energy towards him then he will soon understand that you didn't mean it.

Then again if you always feel super bad that you did this and you just want him to love you again and all that stuff then it might be overwhelming for him to feel down and sad and super emotional every time he's around you right after the accident occurred.

Make sure you check that he's not seriously hurt, be gentle, not pushy and reward him with a treat or something when he comes near you (on his own).

Hoping this helps, cheers.

  • I did have him looked at, he's ok, was just a bit shaken up and I agree that two days might be a bit early to start making assumptions. Just worried.
    – iKlsR
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 23:51
  • Glad you had him looked at. Give it a little time.
    – sulfureous
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 23:55

Slightly different situation, but when I met my (eventual) wife, she came with a pug. As I grew up in a house with large dogs, I wasn't used to a small dog getting underfoot. I can't tell you the number of times that I've accidentally kicked, stepped on, and bumped the dog while he was under my feet.

  • Does he yelp when it happens? Absolutely.
  • Does he "care"? Not that I can tell.

Of course I usually react like any human, with sympathy, but I don't dwell on it, and he "forgets" quickly. Before long, he is back trying to sit on my lap and looking for attention. As others have suggested, don't keep fawning over the dog. While it is contrary to human nature, just go on like nothing happened and the dog will reciprocate.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.