The bond between a human and their dog is like nothing else.
Jennifer Arnold, author of the book “Love Is All You Need: The Revolutionary Bond-Based Approach to Educating Your Dog”, wants us to change the way we view the bond with our dog. We believe that a well-mannered, well-behaved dog is a happy and secure dog. However, it’s the opposite. A happy and secure dog is a well-mannered, well-behaved dog.
We focus on how a dog does rather than how a dog feels.
When dogs feel loved and secure, their behavior problems seemingly disappear. Arnold is an advocate of the bond-based teaching method, where we focus on strengthening our bond with our dog to help transform our relationships.
Here are her seven tips on how to reinvent the relationship between you and your dog.
Your relationship comes first:
Like humans, dog are social creatures. Because of that, relationships are powerful. If you and your pup have a great relationship, they’ll have motivation to make you happy. But, a relationship goes both ways. Both the dog and the human must have control. Since dogs have to function in a human world, the role of a leader falls on us, but that doesn’t mean we need to be dictators. A reciprocal connection will help keep your bond and relationship strong.
Look to understand your dog:
Empathy is necessary in any relationship, whether that’s human-to-human or human-to-dog. Dog’s already spend quite a bit of time trying to understand us. They analyze our mood, habits, and preferences. Doing the same for your dog will create a strong bond. Seek to understand them as much as possible. What games do they like? What do they like to eat? What emotions do they experience? Are they high-energy or a couch potato? Understanding your dog will undoubtedly help your relationship.
Watch through eyes of love:
How you perceive certain situations determines how you’ll respond to them. For example, if you think your dog gets angry and looks for revenge by shredding the couch or your paper towel roll when you are away, you’ll probably be angry. But, if you saw the situation as your dog did those things because they missed you, you won’t be as upset. If you are able to see the situation through their eyes, your relationship will strengthen.
Get your dog to trust you:
According to studies, dogs develop attachment patterns to their owners similar to preverbal children. Therefore, it is necessary that your dog has a secure attachment to you. Dogs with a secure attachment to you are far less likely to have behavioral problems stemming from anxiety. You can strengthen their attachment to you by responding to their needs and never asking them to “earn” your love or attention.
Rethink training your dog:
Current training methods – even positive reinforcement ones – encourage a sense of conditional affection. A sort of, “I love you if you do as I say” or “I will feed you if you please me” type of situation. This can actually be detrimental to your dog developing trust in you. Damaged trust will create increased anxiety, resulting in problem behaviors. These behaviors could include a desire to secure a connection by mouthing or jumping, a need for greater control such as reactivity or stress coping mechanisms like paper shredding or excessive barking. Most training methods promote the solution of exerting more control over your dog, creating a vicious cycle.
Help teach your dog:
Dogs love to learn. It can be a social, internally motivating process, which allows dog to develop a strong bond to their teachers (you) and have control over their environment. Internal motivation learning helps us as well, as it requires far less attentiveness and lets our dogs be more flexible in understanding what good behavior is. A dog that knows the command “sit” when asked needs more management and direction than a dog that knows to sit when their owner is sitting. Giving your dog the chance to learn to direct his own behavior by watching you, will ensure he acts, for the most part, appropriately. Furthermore, dogs that self-direct are much more inclined to comply with you in the future when you have a particular request.
Let your dog amaze you:
Arnold says, “Cognition is the acquisition of knowledge and understanding as a result of mental processes such as memory, thought, planning, and perception”.
Dogs are capable of quite complex cognition. Can a dog learn to answer yes or no questions? Can they sniff out a hidden toy or treat? Why not try asking them? Try teaching them your left hand is “yes” and your right hand is “no”. Hide their toys or treats around the house or yard and tell them to follow their nose. We tend to focus on telling our dogs what to do rather than seeing what they are capable of doing. Who knows, your dog may just amaze you.
Your relationship with your dog is unlike any other. Why not strengthen it even more? Try using some of this tips to establish a deeper connection with your furry friend!