Do you ever feel like the only reason your dog likes you is because you feed them? Do you wish you had a stronger bond with them? A stronger bond can also make training easier because your dog is more willing to put in the work to please you when you have a great relationship. If you’re looking to improve your relationship with your dog, here are 7 tips to help.
#1 – Give them individual, undivided attention
If you want to have a strong bond and excellent relationship with your dog, then the bare minimum – feeding them, letting them out, maybe going on a short walk – won’t cut it. You should be spending at least 30 minutes a day giving your dog your undivided attention. This might involve training, playing, or cuddling, as long as you’re focused on your dog and not your phone or another distraction.
#2 – Study dog body language
By learning more about your dog’s body language, you’ll get a better feel for when your dog is happy, nervous, or upset and be able to respond accordingly. Many dog bites, for example, could be prevented by an owner recognizing their dog’s nervousness and getting their dog out of a situation before they respond with their teeth. Here’s a good article about reading a dog’s body language.
#3 – Learn and respect your dog’s likes and dislikes
Once you learn how to read your dog’s body language, you’ll better be able to understand your dog’s likes and dislikes. They might tolerate being hugged, but they might not enjoy it. They might play tug because they can tell you enjoy it, but it’s not their favorite game. Once you discover your dog’s favorite things, they’ll appreciate your effort to make them happier.
#4 – Work on training every day
Whether or not you actively train your dog every day, they are learning things from you. Letting them get away with undesirable behaviors teaches them it’s okay to misbehave. Daily training sessions teach your dog how you expect them to behave and help you earn their respect.
#5 – Stay calm
Even if you aren’t yelling at your dog, any fighting, arguing, or stress will be felt by your dog and can make them anxious. Maintaining a peaceful household not only benefits you, but it helps your dog remain calm as well.
#6 – Dole out goodies and necessities
All good things should come from you. Instead of leaving food out all day, give it to them twice a day and make them wait for it. Instead of leaving all of their toys out all day, only pull out certain toys when it’s time to play with them. Your dog will associate you with all of their favorite things.
#7 – Communicate clearly
Dogs respond better to visual cues than to verbal commands. Giving your dog hand signals can give them clearer signals on how to do the behavior that you expect from them. They can’t do what you want them to do if they don’t understand what that is. Tricks should be broken into small pieces that can be learned more easily than trying to teach a complicated trick all at once.