That sounds so nice, working with your dog. Your dog looks at you, listens to you, you are happy. You do all kinds of fun things together; walking, you throw a ball, your dog brings it back. You enjoy the relaxation that comes with having a dog.
And now you think… yes, that’s how I imagined it indeed. But it is quite different. It seems as if you are only arguing and disagreeing with your dog. Relaxation? Do not make me laugh!
Who is it up to?
The most read comments on social media…
– Yes, it depends on the upbringing, it’s just how you raise your dog
– Well, you should never have started a dog
– You should get rid of your dog then
– Handle that dog, he needs to know that you are the pack leader
And so I can put 200 misplaced comments here. Yes, of course, there are also situations where taking a dog (or at least, the dog in question) has not been smart, and/or where relocation is indeed the only good solution. But this can happen to anyone. EVERYBODY!back to menu ↑
How do you improve your relationship with your dog?
The good news is that you can improve your relationship with your dog. Your dog can’t. So you have to do it yourself. And if you don’t want that, then relocation is indeed better.
But since you’re reading this blog, I think you’d rather keep your dog and learn how to change certain things! And no, you won’t see the difference within two days. Maybe not in two weeks. But certainly within two months!back to menu ↑
The relationship with your dog
Relationships between dogs and people are not that different from relationships between people. Negativity creates a downward spiral, positivity creates positive feelings.
That sounds very fuzzy and easy, because if your dog just misbehaves all day, barks, wrecks, doesn’t listen, bites, and walks away… how can you have positive feelings about that? Just, quite honestly… not.
So you should first look at the moments when your dog is not annoying. And you can also create them if they are almost non-existent otherwise.back to menu ↑
First, start by making lists about your dog’s behavior. What annoying behavior does he show and what is the reason for it? Can you temporarily avoid this trigger?
Suppose your dog barks at you when you make a phone call. He keeps looking at you, snapping, barking. Can you temporarily go into another room when the phone rings? With the door closed?
Does your dog snap at you when you want to put on his collar? You may be able to leave the collar on continuously. If you’re annoyed by the fact that your dog doesn’t come out when you call, put a long leash on it.back to menu ↑
Making yourself valuable
Making yourself more valuable to your dog is not something you do by dominating or tackling your dog or showing him who’s boss, although this is often called by some ‘experts’. How do you do that?
Make a list of things that your dog finds important and enjoyable. Like food, toys, going outside, sniffing bushes, playing with another dog… and then you start to think about how YOU become the key to all these activities. You do this with what we call ‘key games’.
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One of the key games is that you become the food bowl. So your dog eats out of your hand, during the day. No bowl of food on the kitchen floor because it’s 6 pm. No, your dog is well behaved (he’s lying quietly in his bed, or he won’t pull on the leash once, or he’ll sit or lie down when you ask, or he’ll look at you), go on, feed it.
And now you think ‘oh dear… but will my dog get enough to eat!’ Yes, if you pay enough attention to those moments when your dog is not annoying, disobedient, and annoying.
For example, if your dog really wants to go outside… ask him for something simple, like an attention exercise or a hand touch, and the door will open as a reward. Be creative!back to menu ↑
Working with your dog
It is also important that you do fun things with your dog. What does he like? Most dogs really think working with their nose is the end. No, you don’t have to go to an expensive detective class 100 miles away, three times a week. Just start simple.
Show your dog that you hide his toy (or treat!) in a room. Let him find that. Make it a little more difficult step by step. Your dog is more and more out of sight, and the hiding place is more and more difficult. Go look in the garden. In the park. In the woods.
Do you have a sporty dog? Go for a run, or do a trial with your dog. Doing something fun together will definitely improve your relationship with your dog!
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Understanding Your Dog
What’s really, really important is understanding that your dog isn’t working against you because he wants to bully you, or because he wants to boss you, or because he doesn’t like you. Your dog is doing what he can, with the knowledge YOU (or the previous owner if it is a rehomer) passed on to him.
And… we humans make mistakes quite quickly when training and raising dogs. Even people who have had dogs for decades. So, if you made a mistake, no drama, cross it out, and start fresh!back to menu ↑
Teach your dog to understand you
Dogs don’t understand on their own what words like no, here, let that, follow, fee, pay attention, and so on. Your dog is also not naturally aware that a garbage can in the house is not there as a challenging food puzzle for him. Obedience is not innate in dogs.
Sometimes I ask people ‘why would your dog do this for you?’ and their answer is ‘because I’m the boss’. Yes, for you as a human that may be very logical, but your dog doesn’t think that way. Your dog often doesn’t understand your motivations.
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Experiencing exciting things together, such as trekking, workshops, training sessions, long walks, games… that also strengthens your bond. And no, it doesn’t all work out perfectly in the beginning. There’s nothing wrong with that either.
Both the dog and the owner really need to learn to work together. You probably get (well-intentioned) advice from the outside world or downright rude comments. And that’s really a shame, but believe me, if you continue to interact with your dog in a nice way, it will at some point turn into admiration from the outside world.back to menu ↑
feel each other
The more you interact with each other in a conscious way, the better you can see how your dog is feeling and also see the moments coming that used to annoy you. Now, because of the collaboration, you recognize that earlier, and you can choose solutions in time so that your dog shows different behavior.
Does your dog get tense on the street when he sees another dog? Now you can turn around in time or have a fun game with your dog. Does your dog go crazy at the doorbell? You can now let him do the awesome place game with you instead of barking and jumping!