Everyone strives to have the best relationship possible with their dogs. Some trainers even use that to scare people into one way of training versus another. The goal of any dog training program should be to improve communication and your relationship with your canine companions. We need be focused on unifying and creating “teams” because that is what we are with our dogs, a team. So what are 3 ways to improve your relationship today with your dog? Well there are more than three but for the sake of this article we will talk about three.
Whoa! Yes I do mean for your dogs food they should be hand fed and there’s a million reasons why I believe in hand feeding your dog. The most important part of hand feeding that I love is that it is very primal, it is how dogs became the species we created, we hand fed them our leftovers of our meals. This act of giving your dog food from your hand creates a structure and bond instantaneously. We are controlling one of the most important parts of your dog’s life, their food. Now we have progressed to plopping a bowl or slow feeder on the ground and leaving the dog to engulf food. I do believe sometimes dogs need to be fed in bowls because it is important they still know how to eat from a bowl for when you are away and they are boarding.
There are also health reasons why I like hand feeding my dogs. One health related reason is that I can make sure my dog is eating well or tell if they have an upset stomach. If your dog does not want to eat from your hand then they are not hungry and do not want to eat. We create so many problems with our dogs by forcing them to eat because it makes us feel better that they ate. If you have a dog that does not want to eat one meal, let them skip it! If we force our dogs to eat when they are not hungry they can begin to gain weight, become lethargic, and plain unhealthy. Our goal everyday should be to improve our relationship with our dogs someway, and force feeding them is not the answer.
Yes, I’m saying in the second half of this first tip to control your dogs access to their toys. We want them to look for us to engage in play. We do not want them deciding what they want and when they want it. I see this a lot with dogs who are possessive aggressive(food guarding or resource guarding) they are allowed to get everything whenever they want. We want our dogs to come to us for their play and want to engage with us. Think bout it, kids look to their parents for everything because they provide guidance and of course they control food and money. This first way to improve your relationship with your dog is perhaps the most important and the one I see overnight success with.
Yes walking and exercise is also a way to improve your relationship with your dog but if those walks do not contain any sort of structure it is like your not even on the other end of the leash. What is really important for your relationship with your dog is to find a way to communicate with them while on the leash and off leash. This way we can tell our dogs when they are behaving appropriately or not. We want our dogs to be in sync with us. Your Dog should know what is expected and how walks should go. If there nose is to the ground and your being dragged along, that really is not helping anyone. Your dog is not really getting any sort of communication, that means they have no real reason to listen to you besides if you have something higher value then what they want.
Find a way to communicate with your dog on your walk, I recommend a prong collar. These are extremely amazing tools that are commonly misused but can truly change the walk with your dog. These tools allow us to accurately and safely communicate and control our dogs in any situation. Yes prong collars are extremely safe and all the myths of them hurting, puncturing, etc. are completely false and are scare tactics by big corporations. So way #2 to truly improve your relationship with your dog is to communicate on your walks.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but our dogs need rules and boundaries. A dog that has too much freedom is an unhappy dog or a dog that will get into trouble. Lets go back to your dog needing to come to you for toys and food, this creates your dog looking for your for something they want. I like the create that with couches, sniffing, staying, food, toys, etc. We want our dog to have things that they know are absolutely not allowed. Dogs thrive of clear and consistent rules because it allows them to become comfortable and understand what is expected.
Too much freedom is often used in my examples to the kid your grow up with who had the “fun parents”. You always went to their house because you could do whatever you wanted, usually those children are out of control and have no relationship with their parents. The same thing happens with dogs. We can have fun with our dogs and be goofy and excitable but there is a time to be serious and institute rules. If your want to improve your relationship with your dog, you need to institute rules and boundaries. Your dog needs this and will truly thank you for it.