When considering your dog relationship, how do you view yourself in the relationship with your dog? Are you an owner? Or, in your dog relationship, are you your dog’s partner?
“What’s the difference?” you ask.
Often times, being a dog owner can mean getting a dog to satisfy your own needs – usually love and affection. Some get dogs for the kids thinking it’s important for the kids to grow up with a dog. Some dogs are given as a gift. In these scenarios, dogs can be over-loved and over-nurtured or the opposite – a novelty at first then looked at as a burden or chore. In either extreme, the basic physical and psychological needs of the dog are not being met and the core relationship needs of the dog are never fulfilled. Dog behavior problems are more prone to develop.
If, on the other hand, you are truly your dog’s partner, you recognize that just like you, your dog has specific needs that have to be fulfilled in order to have a balanced life. Recognizing what those needs are and helping your dog to fulfill those needs everyday is being a great partner to your dog.
On being a good partner
Do you just own your dog and decide what’s best for you or have you accepted your relationship with your dog as reciprocal – a partnership of mutual giving and mutual respect? What does a good partner do for his dog? I’ve come up with a list of things I recognize in being a good partner – you can add to it – you’re only limited by your imagination. A good dog partner will:
Expect and set reasonable and understandable personal space boundaries, rules and expectations that your dog must live by in “your home.”
Educate your dog on how he should act both at home and in public. Education also includes dog obedience training to give him a job. Teach your dog about giving before receiving anything from you. “Sit!” is a simple lesson that will pay dividends in the years to come. Your dog will become more responsive to you and to your needs.
Educate yourself on the best nutritional food for your dog. Learn about the effects of cheap carbohydrates, artificial preservatives and coloring on your dog’s behavior. Feeding good food can eliminate bad behavior.
Exercise your dog every day. This is the key to fewer dog behavior problems. Do things with your dog you think he will enjoy – especially on your time off – like weekends. Go hiking, take him to the park or beach, explore with your dog. As important as it is for your dog to do these things, it is more important to do these things with you. It strengthens your bond – your relationship with your dog and in the process you become genuine partners. Your dog then wants to do anything to be a part of your pack – because “you’re cool!”
Explore your dog daily with your hands to keep you aware of potential health issues like fleas, ticks, noticeable bumps, etc. Being a good partner is keeping your dog healthy. Clean his ears and clip his nails – or have your vet do it on a regular basis.
Be honest with your dog. Honesty is the best policy. This touches on a different connection with your dog because he reads your core energy, emotions and expressed intentions.
Often times you don’t project outwardly exactly how you are really feeling inside. Your dog sees two different pictures of “you” – the inside you (how you are feeling) and the outside you (how you project yourself to your dog or others.)
This can confuse your dog and affect how he responds to things you ask him to do. For example, if you’ve had a bad day at the office, simply tell your dog. Now he won’t understand “what you’re saying” but will sense your energy and feelings in “how you say it.”
It only takes a few seconds to do this but once you have matched your internal core energy with your feelings verbally to your dog, you have alleviated confusion in your dog’s perception of you.
The benefits of a genuine partnership far out weigh just ownership. Why did you get your dog? Are you an owner or are you your dog’s partner? If you’re an owner, it’s never too late to become a partner – your dog’s best friend and there’s no time like the present. Start today and watch what happens with your dog. You will be pleasantly surprised! Then, hang on for the ride of a lifetime!
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“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8500+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.
His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step way to teach you and your dog how to have a successful, happy relationship built on mutual trust and respect