“Whenever possible be kind…it is always possible” – Dalai Lama
I hope you have decided to accept my challenge! This week’s focus will be on BONDING.
I know it may sound like an obvious thing to do; however, it is something far too many dog guardians overlook. Yet, it is one of the secrets to having a super solid relationship with your dog. We adopt/acquire dogs so that we can have a companion, right? Bonding is something that is not necessarily hard to do as much as it requires time & patience. Bonding is what separates “owning” a dog to being a team! When you and your dog have a mutual relationship you understand him/her and visa versa. When you are mindful of how to bond with your dog, that awareness will aid you in cultivating trust with your dog. And when your dog truly knows that he/she can trust you completely and never have any fear of you, the rewards from that are limitless!
We all have busy lives, and as result dogs have unintentionally gotten the short end of the stick. Then factor in all of the devices that we use and it magnifies a dis-connect. Twenty five years ago I hardly had any client/ dogs with behavioral issues. Today, sadly most of my appointments address some form of anxiety, lack of social skills or circumvented disobedience. Now, I’m not inferring that if we take some time each day that our dogs will shed all of the behavioral issues and miraculously turn into Lassie; but what I am saying is that the fundamental cornerstone of any relationship is a connection. And embedded within this connection we MUST possess gentleness, kindness, playfulness and intelligence. We haves strong intimate ideological links with dogs that go back 10’s of thousands of years. Suzanne Clothier, renowned dog trainer has even coined a term for this: “Relationship Centered Training”! You will see over time that once you engage with your dog, see the world through his/her eyes, the “training” will all fall into place without much effort.
In order to bond with your dog, there must be an absence of any domineering ways and an abundance of kindness. We all have gentleness in us, we just need to take the time to offer it in a genuine fashion to our dogs.
Did you know that dogs release oxytocin – the chemical found in humans who are in love or bonding with family and loved ones? I’m sure you all are aware that interacting with any animal, particularly dogs, has been proven time and time again to lower people’s blood pressure! This is just one of the many reasons why it is so important for both of you to connect at a deeper level, understand your dog better and continue on a joyful journey together! I know you all have a good relationship with your dog and here are a few ways to make it a great relationship!
First, here is a question to ponder: Do your dog(s) pay attention to you and vice versa?
Regardless of the state of your relationship there is always room for improvement and strengthening your relationship with your dog. Here are a few simple things you can try tonight:
- Sit quietly with your dog. Gently, calmly and slowly pet your dog (And try turning your device off, it’ll be good for you too 😉 Create a safe haven for your dog.Meditate with your dog!
- Brush your dog. If they aren’t in to brushing, try using treats as a bridge to new and different things. You could even stuff a kong® with some small pieces of chicken and brush them for a minute or two while they chomp away.
- Treat your dog nicer. One of my favorite “truths” from the Dalai Llama is “Whenever possible be kind … it is always possible”. Look at your dog as your guide. They are patient, understanding and do not impose unrealistic expectations on you. I challenge you to offer your dog the same.Refrain from intimidation tactics – I promise they don’t work. Things like prong collars and choke chains will deteriorate your relationship not to mention do permanent damage to your dog’s throat, neck and spine!
Dogs are much more tuned into reading body language than humans. I always emphasize how they truly are masters at this.
Have a relaxing weekend with your family and your pooch and give the exercises below a try – and please feel free to share your experience with the Courteous Canine Community on Facebook!
THIS WEEK’S EXERCISE
OBJECTIVE: Get your dog to watch you for five seconds!
If you notice that your dog doesn’t pay attention to you then you are going to love this week’s exercise: watch me cues. Watch me cues will lay the foundation for the coming weeks and beyond. You want your dog to pay attention to you and have it become part of his default behavior. Lay this foundation with your dog and just about anything is possible!
This exercise MUST be worked on indoors and slowly. DON’T RUSH IT. Implement patience. Gradually increase the time up to 5 seconds. You will be working on this throughout the next 8 weeks of the challenge; your dog’s maximum time focusing on you without distractions by graduation should be 20 seconds or so.
Dogs learn in black and white. There are only “yes” or “no” options in a dog’s minds. They are not fans of maybe. They do not have the ability to connect events. For example, if you come home and find the garbage ripped open, rather than yell at your dog… simply clean up the mess. I implore you to not get upset at your dog – he’ll begin to associate punishment with your coming home and NOT the garbage! It’s a myth that dogs have a guilty look when you discover a “mess”. What you are seeing is a behavioral response that a dog has in anticipation to you becoming angry. I know if the tables were turned your dog wouldn’t get mad at you.
Take the time this week to sit quietly with your dog. Ask yourself this: how does your dog see the world and you? How do you think your dog would answer this question? I’d love to see your answers so please, share if you dare!
DID YOU KNOW?!
Your dog can read your facial expressions! Yes, they are one of a couple animals that have shown to do so! They know a happy face versus a mad one. Don’t stare at your dog with a menacing face – that will only elicit submissive behavior or provoke anger. Dogs are masters at reading human energy and intentions Keep a neutral and pleasant expression! Dogs LOVE smiles! So go ahead …make eye contact and show those pearly whites!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil, jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring it was peace.”
- Mulan Kundera