Lesson 5

BUILDING A TRUE RELATIONSHIP AND BOND

Having a true relationship with your dog is vitally important. We relate to it as if it were a bank account:

Positive Reactions being Investments.

Negative Interactions being Withdrawals.

 

How Healthy Is Your Relationship BankAccount With Your Dog Right Now?

The thing is it is completely changeable like any bank balance. You can pay into the bank account with any positive interaction – for example games, play, affection, massage, you name it. And the key is to keep the balance high in the face of withdrawals that might happen in the form of conflict, frustration, reactivity, intimidation, etc.

Building a Working Relationship with Your Dog.

When you are in a training situation with a dog, in an ideal world you and the dog would be actively and happily working together to achieve some goal. 

The goal, of course, is only known to the human half of the team. The dog has no idea.

If your dog isn’t making progress towards that (unknown to him) goal it is not his fault.  It is very likely that your communication system is faulty and flawed, and you are not able to accurately convey information to him in a way that he can understand.

None of this fall on your dog’s shoulders!  The human half of the team has the responsibility to establish a good solid communication system and to be sure that it makes sense to the dog.

 Dogs are not by nature stubborn, willful, or spiteful.  They are just dogs. They do what is in their best interest at any given moment, just like all living creatures do. 

They are simply being the creatures they were born to be. If you want to change your dog’s behavior that is definitely possible, but you need to know how to accomplish that task.  It takes knowledge, experience, and finesse.

Good training should not be a combative “you against the dog and only one wins” kind of activity. It should be a shared enjoyable activity that both parties are eager to engage in, and that brings mutual benefit to both.  If it only benefits one half of the team that’s not good enough. 

Your job as an educated and thoughtful owner and trainer is to be your dog’s advocate and strongest ally.  Always keep the dog’s best interests in mind. Develop your working relationship and establish a good communication system, and the rest is going to be so much easier. 

There is nothing better than having a dog who is always excited and ready to work with you and willing to do whatever you want to do. Once you have that experience you will never want to go back!

How do you develop this magical working relationship?  Through knowledge and consistent effort. There are no shortcuts.  While some dogs may naturally be easier to developing a good partnership with, it is still necessary even when it is a more difficult endeavor. 

Learn about and work on the foundation concepts of focus, engagement, play, confidence building, and impulse control. There are plenty of resources readily available to you these days to help continue your education as a trainer. 

My parting advice is “be on your dog’s side”.  Be a strong teammate and support your dog in his learning process.  That’s your part of the job in this relationship.