Many of us could use a relationship makeover with our dogs at times, many behavior issues arise from some aspect of the dog to owner relationship. When it comes to changing and improving our relationship with our dogs it’s important to remember that spoiling them, giving them treats, or showering them with new toys is not the answer. Sometimes it takes committing to structure, discipline, and leadership to give our dogs what they need. Depending on the specifics of your current relationship, here are somethings that can help improve your relationship with your dog.
Pick up the food bowl and stop free feeding your dog. There are a lot of important components that go into feeding your dog, and free feeding is a relationship killer. In the dog’s mind he doesn’t need you to provide him with that very important resource. Start scheduled feeding times with your dog and do not waiver!
Go for a walk and bond with your dog. Going for a structured and organized walk with your dog is a great way to get exercise and spend some quality time with your dog. Walks should be in a controlled position of the dog walking next to you and while it’s ok to stop for a potty break, don’t let your dog sniff every blade of grass and pee on every pole – keep moving forward! BTW, having a large backyard does not cancel out the benefits of a structured walk.
Pick up the toys and take control of that resource (this is especially important if you are living with multiple dogs). Your dog needs to look to you to provide them with the good things in life. When you want your dog to enjoy his toys, select a few toys and present them to the dog, don’t just leave them out and available all of the time.
Teach them something and get their minds working. Providing mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise, you would be surprised at how quickly a dog will get tired after a nice training session. Teach your dog to lay down, shake, or another trick, even the entry level skills are great ways to get your dog’s mind working.
Create some space between you and your dog. By this I mean get the crate out of your bedroom, leave your dog home alone once in a while, and let them exist without you, we don’t always have to be touching our dogs. Some cases of separation anxiety can be easily prevented if some level of separation and space are implemented. Also, sometimes our dogs are fine being left alone, but it’s the human that is the one suffering from the separation anxiety!
Stop treating them like children and realize that they are dogs. Although certain aspects of raising children and dogs share many things in common, dogs are not furry children. Dogs need to be treated like dogs in order to flourish.
Forget the past and focus on the present and future. This is especially true if you have a rescue dog with a not so pleasant past, we can’t change anything that has already happened to them. Coddling them and spoiling them will not make things undo things and make them right. It’s important to move on and provide them with the correct interactions and leadership.