I believe people living with dogs know the secret: the more you give to your dog (keep him occupied, train him, love him), the more you will get back (of love, understanding, friendship). However, I understand that a life of a dog owner is full of many other duties: children, work, household chores, etc. Thus the dog does not always get the needed amount of attention from his human friend.
If you find yourself in similar situation, practice these 3 simple steps everyday. It will strengthen your bond with a dog, your pet will feel better, and you will understand each other more easily.
1. Use real life situations
Sometimes you are so busy you can’t find these 5 minutes to train your dog. But you can always use real life situations for training. You just need to notice what does your dog want and when does he want it, and use the circumstances for teaching your dog.
For example, you can notice that as soon as you put the collar on your dog’s neck, he wants to leave home instantly. Think about how can you use this situation to teach your dog good manners? It might be a good time to ask your dog to sit, and reward it with a permission to go through the door.
What other real life situations can you use for training? Ask your dog to look at you, sit, lay down, shake a paw, or do any other thing, for:
• when he wants you to throw that stick for fetching;
• saying hello / play with other dog;
• greetin you when you get back home;
• putting a collar / leash before you go for a walk;
• exiting though the doors;
• chasing birds;
• any other activity your dog likes doing.
2. Notice his good choices
Raise your hand if you don’t like feeling needed, useful, and good! Even dogs enjoy that feeling, when a human he loves values the efforts of the dog. So use every chance to say your dog that you love the choices he makes. For that you will need only one thing – to keep an eye on your dog. After all, you’ve done that until now, didn’t you? :)
There are no “just” behaviors in dog’s life. If your dog is not behaving badly, he is behaving good! You will benefit from this kind of outlook, too – everytime you reward your dog for his choice you like (for example, he chooses to chew a toy, not a furniture), you will lessen the chances that he will make a wrong choice next time.
So when your dog sits for 5 seconds when you get home instead of jumping on you, don’t take it for granted! Say “thank you”, “you’re a good dog” and pet him if that’s what he likes. Show him you noticed and value the choice he made!
What else can be noticed and rewarded?
• a dog pays attention to you and / or makes an eye contact;
• a dog greets other dog a human in a polite manner;
• a dog is not pulling a leash;
• a dog lays in his bed as you prepare dinner or eat;
• a dog plays with a toy when you are cleaning the house;
• a dog does what you ask him to do. Reward your dog not only when he responds to your asking to DO something (like “sit”), but also reward him when he responds to your asking NOT to do something (he leaves the garbage as you say “no”).
3. Walk with your dog
When you walk your dog, leave any unnecessary equipment (maybe you don’t deed a cell phone), thoughts (about work or anything that is bothering you right now), and people at home. When going for a walk, it’s only you and your dog. You will benefit more from this kind of walking, because:
• We understand that lovers need to spend some time alone. You also need to spend a quality time with your dog to strengthen your bond. A perfect time for these dates are walkies! When it’s only you two, you can enjoy each other’s company more, find new paths together, play with a stick or a ball, chase birds or run together.
• When you have no friends or family members to talk to, and a cell phone to check, you can pay all your attention to the dog. It will strengthen his obedience skills, because now you are able to notice the good choices he makes and reward them.
• When you concentrate to a dog and his choices, you will enjoy the walking more! You will be “here and now”. You will notice what paths your dog chooses, you will see beautiful landscapes you usually miss. As your dog chooses what is worth inspecting with his nose or even chewing, you will notice how nature in your park is damaged by littering and asking for your help to clean it up. You will notice what kind of people does you dog like and who is ignored, so you will notice people smiling in sunny evenings and sleepy in the early mornings. Dogs give humans a great gift – they teach us to enjoy moments. Take this gift and use it!
• It is likely that you will love these kind of walks with concentrated attention on your dog and environment! As a result, you will walk your dog more frequently and take longer walks – it will not only tire your dog, but it will also be healthy for you!