In my years of training I have learned from dogs and Cesar Millan that there are 3 ingredients to any successful relationship: Trust, Love and Respect. This is true of our relationships with friends, family, our dogs, and even towards ourselves. As humans we tend to focus primarily on loving our dogs and less on earning their trust and respect. There is no question, our dogs will love us unconditionally. That is why we consider them man’s best friend after all. No matter what kind of day you’re having, your dog will always be there to comfort you and make you smile. It is something they do naturally and whole-heartedly and truly is admirable. Trust and respect on the other hand do not come automatically and require work to establish.
Let’s take a look at these 3 ingredients in closer detail to see how we can improve our bonds with our dogs.
Having trust issues is not ideal for any human or dog! I have seen many behavioural problems develop due to lack of trust with an owner. Aggression, fear, and anxiety are among a few of the issues that can develop when a dog does not have trust in it’s human. So how do you build trust you might ask? For me it is simple. I work on teaching the dog something new. If a dog can overcome an obstacle with a human it forms a connection built on trust. To give you an example, at the daycare we get new dogs everyday who we need to establish a relationship with fairly quickly in order to bring them in to meet other dogs safely. Many dogs will not just follow a stranger in to meet 25 dogs off leash so easily. If a dog is feeling insecure, I will spend time teaching the dog something new to forge a connection that is meaningful. That something could be learning to go on the treadmill, in the pool, or do some simple agility. Another way to work on trust with your dog is to take them on walks and to visit new places. The more you and your dog explore the world together and have positive experiences the more your relationship will grow and strengthen due to a foundation build on trust!
Just remember that trust is cultivated by doing things together, exercise and overcoming obstacles.
We all love our dogs, that goes without saying. But how and when we love our dogs is important. If we try to love our dogs the way we love a baby or significant other, it is not respecting a dog for the animal it is. For instance by buying a dog lavish gifts, dressing them up in clothes, constantly holding, hugging, and talking to them, we are humanizing the dog. To love a dog the way they want to be loved is to provide them with leadership and fulfilling their needs – exercise, mental stimulation and socialization. After all of that, then we can love on them. And treats aren’t the only way to shower them will affection. Most dogs are more motivated by touch and praise from their human than by a Beggin’ Strip or Milkbone. The best way to give affection to your dog is with a slow massage. Being close to you and feeling your tender touch is not only soothing and calming to your dog but also to you. I encourage owners to praise their dog with calm energy and truly connect with your dog through meaningful touch not mindless petting.
The best time to show your dog affection is when they are in a calm submissive state.
Probably the most overlooked ingredient when it comes to our dogs. Most people don’t care about having their dog’s respect because they are more concerned with being their dog’s buddy. However, this part of the relationship is just as important as any other! Dogs who don’t have respect typically do not listen to commands, jump up, and pretty well do what they want no matter what. This wouldn’t be acceptable for a child so why is it ok for a dog. If a friend came over to your house and jumped on your couch with muddy shoes, screamed and shouted, stole your favourite shoes, and pooped in your living room, you would not only be disgusted but also not impressed. You might reconsider your friendship as you would feel disrespected. So if your dog is running the show in your life it is time to start working on gaining their respect. This means enforcing rules for your dog. Some great rules to implement to teach your dog boundaries and respect are: no being on furniture, no pulling on leash, no jumping on humans, no rushing through doorways. To be fair to your dog, teach these new rules on leash and be calm and patient. Change doesn’t happen over night so be consistent with your rules and you will see a change in a matter of a days.
Earning respect means setting clear expectations, so don’t go changing them or you will end up confusing your dog. Be fair and respectful and your dog will do the same.
If you work on these 3 areas in your relationship with your dog, you will have a deeper, more meaningful connection with her and isn’t that what everyone wants?
To learn more about building on these 3 ingredients, join our Training Essentials Group Class!