Spend Time With Your Dog – You can’t just “pass in the wind” with your dog and expect a relationship to develop. Simply cohabitating is not enough, you need to spend quality time with your pet. This isn’t hard to do, you can simply: play fetch or tug, take your dog in the car when you run errands, or have your dog in a “Down” or “Place” while you are doing yard work or other chores around the house. Your dog gets to be with you, but in a productive and undisruptive way. These are the 5 Obedience Commands to Make Your Life Easier.
Get Out in the World – Assuming your dog is not aggressive, take your dog for walks around the neighborhood, in local shopping centers, go for hikes, or visit local parks/fields. This is important socialization for your dog, but also terrific opportunities for you to be in the leadership role. Your dog gets to see that you will advocate for them (so they don’t have to react) and you will keep them safe. Trust is only developed through practice.
Develop Mutual Respect – Respect comes from fair and consistent boundaries. It’s important to establish clear criteria and consistently reinforce it. Some guidelines might be: not allowing dogs on furniture, no pulling on the leash when on walks, jumping on people or counters is not allowed, etc. The key is that you reinforce these rules consistently. If you only follow-through some of the time, your dog will lack respect. Just as we would lose respect for someone who is “all talk and no action” or a “do as I say, not as I do” type of leader.
Establish a Clear System of Communication – Developing a clear system of communication is essential, but overlooked by most owners. Create a system of communication that your dog understands and is easy for you to implement. A communication system starts with consistent word choice in a predictable sequence. You can’t tell your dog “Down” when you mean “Off” or “No” when we mean “Leave It”. Not only is this poor communication, but as I stated earlier, it will undermine the mutual respect you are developing. Learn how to Teach Your Dog to Listen.
Developing the bond between you and your dog is critically important. Begin using these steps today, and your dog will thank you for it.