The fact that you are reading this article shows that you already care for, and love your dog very much. However, to establish a good bond with a dog, we need caring as well as a good dose of rules and structure.
In bonding with a dog, it is important to establish ourselves as the pack leader. We need to teach our dog which are good dog behaviors, and which are bad dog behaviors according to us humans. Our human laws primarily protect people and not dogs, thus it is up to us to protect our dog from situations that may cause him harm. This includes running into traffic, accidentally biting people because of unrestrained playfulness, or dog aggression.
I always try to observe what my dog is trying to tell me, and make sound decisions based on his temperament and level of tolerance, as well as his likes and dislikes.
Bond with Your Dog Tip 1
Redirect our dog’s energies into productive pursuits.
Most dogs naturally love running, chasing, chewing everything, jumping, smelling, eating poop, eating everything else, and rolling in smelly stuff.
These dog behaviors lead to chewed up expensive shoes, mud on designer clothing, torn upholstery, and a variety of other delights that our dog will devise when left to his own devices. A good way to deal with these bad dog behaviors is to redirect our dog into positive and productive pursuits -
- Play running and chase games with him. Some examples include recall training, hide and seek, and flirt pole.
- Get good and safe chew toys. I frequently press cheese bits onto my dogs’ chew toys so that they are even more motivated to chew on them. We can also try soaking appropriate chew toys in chicken broth to give them an appealing scent.
- Make our dog work for all of his food through toys, training, handling, or grooming.
- Do obedience training or dog sports so that he gets to jump, run, and compete.
- Walk our dog every day on a loose leash so that he gets to explore and smell interesting environments.
- I hand-feed my dogs during these activities to further establish trust.
To build a strong human-dog bond, we must not only look to what we desire, but also how we can fulfill our dog’s desires.
In addition, this approach is useful for getting our dog to perform tasks that he may not like, such as taking a bath. Instead of giving my Shiba Inu a regular bath in the shower stall, which he is really afraid of, I play the water hose game with him. Shiba does not usually like getting wet, but he is very happy to get totally soaked for this chasing game. He will even take intermittent breaks for a washcloth scrub-down.
By making bathing into a game, I get to engage in a fun activity with my dog, as well as get a previously unpleasant task done with no stress, no physical force, and lots of laughs.
Bond with Your Dog Tip 2
Always be calm, consistent and fair with our dog.
To gain a dog’s respect we must be calm, consistent, and fair with him.
Be calm – Do not yell or respond in anger. A dog is more likely to stay calm and listen to us, if we are also calm.
Be consistent - Do not punish him for jumping on the bed one day, and not on another.
Be fair - Do not punish him for not performing a command, if he does not understand what is required of him. By the same token, set and enforce rules within the house so that our dog is not bullying us.
If we always get angry or frustrated, it will be difficult to build a strong and healthy bond that is based on trust and respect.
Do not be fearful of our dog. A dog can easily sense fear, and he will become uncertain and fearful himself because of it. Fear indicates a lack of trust in our dog, and frequently a lack of trust in ourselves. In particular, we fear what the dog may do, and we fear that we will not be able to stop him.
To build a strong and healthy bond -
- Try to always remain calm, consistent, and fair. This will make our dog feel safe because he will always know what to expect from us, and what we expect from him.
- Establish a consistent set of verbal commands and hand gestures to communicate with him.
- Establish a consistent set of rules that he must always follow.
- Establish a consistent routine and schedule for his various dog activities.
Some dog trainers suggest that a healthy bond is based on conducting certain dominance rituals, such as always walking ahead of our dog, going through entrances first, and eating before him.
Some of these rules are useful not because they are dominance rules, but simply because they add structure to our human-dog relationship.
In fact, the actual rules do not usually matter much, as long they help to define some boundaries and routine for the dog.
Rules do not magically build a strong bond, and make us into a respected leader. If we try to perform these actions with angry or fearful energy, our dog will only get frustrated, and misbehave or show aggression.
Bond with Your Dog Tip 3
According to them, we must show the dog who is boss, and the dog must always follow every single one of our commands. Failure to do so will result in a swift physical correction, which may be a leash jerk, finger poke, muzzle slap, or alpha roll.
They argue that this is especially true for stubborn, strong willed, and dominant dogs. Such dogs, they say, will not respond to a well meaning but soft owner that chooses not to engage in a physical contest with his dog.
This is NOT true.
The best way to build a strong bond with a dog, and to become a good leader, is to stay away from brute force physical techniques.
In a true physical contest, we can be sure that the dog will win – so trying to achieve leadership through physical dominance is misguided at best. If we see a group of stray dogs eating our garbage, do we walk up to them and try to wrestle them to the ground? I think not – and we should not do that to our own dog either.
We can build a bond that is based on pain and fear, but it is much better to build a bond that is based on mutual respect.
The fact is, we are already natural leaders to our dogs because we have control over their most prized resources, including food, shelter, toys, access to pack members, access to interesting locations, and access to other dogs. To establish ourselves as leader, we simply need to teach our dogs this fact – through the Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) program.
With NILIF, our dog has to do something for us, before he gets anything in return. Any bullying will be ignored, or will result in the removal of a resource. With this program, our dog quickly learns that the simplest and fastest way to get what he wants, is by following our rules.
Even in wolf packs, a strong and confident alpha pair will tolerate a fair amount of misbehavior from subordinates. They save their strength and attention for more direct challenges, which center around resource control, e.g. mating rights or food rights.
A strong leader has no need to always force compliance, because he is confident that when it counts, he can easily command compliance.
Be a confident and benevolent leader of the pack, not a tyrant.
Bond with Your Dog Tip 4
Gain our dog’s trust.
Receiving love from a dog is very different from earning his trust.
Dogs have an immense capacity to love, but it takes a lot more work to earn their trust. Yet, this is an extremely worthwhile endeavor because once we have a dog’s trust, we will be able to achieve a deeper bond, and bring about a happy, well balanced, well behaved, canine friend.
Trust is acquired by always looking out for our dog’s best interests. Being inconsistent with our dog, or using forceful training techniques can destroy that trust.
People usually focus on themselves; their need for love, and their feelings of embarrassment when their dog ‘acts out’. To gain a dog’s trust, just focus on doing what is best for him, without expecting anything in return. If we can do this, the returns will surely come.
I protect my dogs from external threats, or perceived external threats. It does not matter whether the threat is real or not. As long as my dog perceives it to be a threat, and is stressed by it, I step in and protect him.
Sometimes, being a good caretaker also means we must protect our dog from himself, and do things that he may not like or understand.
If our dog is obese and loves to eat, we should put him on a strict diet so he does not develop health problems down the road. If our dog loves to run and chase, make sure to have him on a leash so that he does not run into traffic.
Visit the vet at least once every year, for dog vaccination shots and for teeth cleaning.
Bonding with Your Dog
Bonding with our dog is a give and take process.
Our dog is willing to do commands, endure hugs, walk on a leash, and comply with many other human rules and restrictions that he would never do in the wild.
In return, we should try to understand our dog, and fulfill his needs to the best of our abilities.
Why physically punish a dog for being fearful of bathing, when you can make the experience fun, pleasant, and less stressful by turning it into a game?
If we give our dog the best that we have to give, he will give us his best in return, and that is when we form a strong and enduring bond.
It does not matter whether others think our dog is a Lassie or a Cujo. What matters most is making sure that our dog has a good quality of life, and is safe, healthy, and happy. If a collar and leash is sufficient, there is no need to use a shock collar.
What is the Nothing in Life is Free program? Is it a good or bad training strategy for our dogs? Here, we consider the many aspects of NILIF dog training including its pros and cons, why it is used, and how it can be implemented.
Brad Pattison is a well-known dog trainer in Canada. He also appeared in dog training shows in Canada and the US. However, his US program (In The Doghouse) was cancelled due to viewer complaints and outrage. We consider Brad Pattisons dog training style and compare it to other television dog [...]