Please note, I received compensation in exchange for this blog post – Tracey Hagan, Pawsitive Purpose Dog Training & Behavior
One of the most important things you can have with your dog is a good relationship. When you have a good relationship, you have a more cooperative, happy and trusting dog that will want to do things with you because you make her feel happy and safe. If your dog does not feel happy and safe, she is less likely to listen to you.
To build a good relationship, you have to start with earning your dog’s trust in you. If she doesn’t trust you, she will be less likely to want to be with you and listen to you. There are a lot of ways to earn your dog’s trust. Never be a source of pain, fear or uncertainty for your dog. You should be a source of love, fun, food, and safety
Don’t call your dog to you and do something you know they don’t like, such as clipping their nails, going to the vet, or, for some dogs, giving them a bath. Doing this will make your dog think that every time you call them, they will have to go through something they don’t like. This will cause them to stop coming to you when called.
Always try to be calm with your dog, even when they are doing something you don’t like, or if they are having a hard time with something. Losing your cool could cause your dog to fear you and avoid you. Which is the very thing you don’t want. You want your dog to look to you for guidance when they are unsure of what to do in a situation, when they are afraid, or if they become overwhelmed. Teaching your dog what you want them to do instead of focusing on what they are doing wrong, will be the best way to work through things with them.
Be consistent. Dogs learn in black and white. Either they can do something or they can’t. There is no gray area, no sometimes, or maybe. Being consistent is a great way to teach them what you want from them. Make sure that everyone in the household know the same cues and rules and everyone stays consistent with them. This will help your dog learn faster what is expected of them.
You need to make sure you are meeting your dogs needs. Dogs, like children, cannot learn or behave the way we want if their basic needs aren’t being met. They need sufficient food, water and shelter, of course. But they also need adequate sleep (usually around 16 hours a day, longer for puppies), human interaction and physical and mental stimulation. Not all dogs are going to have the same needs. For example, a working dog, such as a German Shepherd will need more exercise than a chihuahua or a bulldog. It is a good idea to find out what your dog needs so you can make sure you are providing those for your dog.
All dogs also need to be able to perform the behaviors they were bred to do (dog things). Dogs that do not have an outlet for these innate behaviors can develop behavior problems from not getting to do the behaviors that their DNA is telling them to do in certain situations. It is why you get behaviors such as Australian Shepherds chasing cats or herding children into the corner. There are a lot of different things our dogs were originally (and currently) bred to do. So make sure you know what your dog was bred to do and help them find outlets to get to do these behaviors. If you need help, contact a dog trainer to help you figure out how to help them. There are some dog trainers who have special training to help you with this, they are called Family Dog Mediators. You can look for them by using Google.
When you spend time with your dog training with them, playing with them, taking them with you when it is appropriate, exercising with them, learning how they communicate, or just hanging out with them, you will be building a trusting relationship with your dog. And as long as you don’t break that trust, you will be able to live a healthy, happy life together. And that is what we all want, isn’t it?
Tracey Hagan, is a certified dog trainer at Pawsitive Purpose Dog Training & Behavior. To see her full list of credentials, check out more here.