“If dogs could talk, what would yours say?” I ask dog owners this as I love to see how the answers differ.
Most owners say: Dogs need love and affection. And most do say love and affection first. Others may follow up with some things they would think I want to hear like obedience training or food and water and to know they are in a safe place.
Well, truth be told, if dogs could talk, they would say they need all of those things. Many of these things he needs in moderation and others – he needs a lot. You may be surprised at the order of which comes first.
Let’s explore what your dog would need – if dogs could talk
If your dog could talk, these are some great dog skills he would want you to have so that you could best interact with him in the early stages of his life with you.
He would tell you that he needs to have the highest level of comfort and trust in you, but at the same time respect you as a leader.
Now he may not say he wants you to obedience train him – after all that’s work! He’ll indirectly say that by jumping and acting out in other ways you may not like. He’s looking for ways to get things he wants – like your attention. He might also be asking, “How do I get anything to eat around here?” Your answer of course is obedience training. And the “Sit!” is born.
When you begin fulfilling his needs, he will be able to build on this relationship of mutual respect and continue this into the years ahead as an adult dog.
Here are three very important areas of your dog relationship on which you should work:
- Bonding with your dog to build trust
- Rules, expectations and respect of your personal space
- Manners in your home – teach the behavior you want
Let’s take a look at each one of these “relationship areas” and see exactly what it takes to build on your successes with your new dog.
Bonding with your dog to build trust
Love your new dog. This is an important part of his new dog care. Spend his first critical days with you giving your dog lots of love and affection. This is especially good to do after exercising him with a brisk walk.
He learns on a physical level so how you use your body language, eye contact and tone of voice is going to be critically important.
Show him your affection with your touch (body language.) he loves physical contact so you can begin with a favorite of new dogs – belly rubs! Using your hands to gently pet and give soothing belly rubs is a good way to express how you feel towards him. Cuddle and hug him and avoid any interactions that could cause him to be aggressive or bite. Always balance this with a sit and down command and give it in moderation.
Speaking in a calm soothing voice lets him know you appreciate what he has done because of the warm sincere praise (tone of voice.) This voice inflection will create calm in him. Your calm tone of voice helps you bond with your dog. Anger, yelling and screaming causes him to become stressed and anxious, creating an unstable environment.
Make sure you give – and get attention (eye contact) as you communicate physically and verbally to your dog. Attention (eye contact) should be his way of getting interaction with you – not jumping or biting. All of this will begin to create “calm expectations” with your dog as you build a lasting trust in the relationship with your dog.
If there is more than one family member, spread the dog love around. Everyone should work on bonding with him by building a strong working relationship with obedience commands.
While love and affection is very important, your new dog will need more than that. He’s going to need a “roadmap” to help him navigate the treacherous roads of chewing, jumping and biting as he learns to live in a human world. This roadmap will help him to avoid the pitfalls and the potholes of life. You want his – and your experience to be a great one.
Rules, expectations and respect of your personal space
What he needs the second he walks into your home is the roadmap I spoke of before and it should take the shape of rules, boundaries and expectations. Your dog training should include:
- Rules for him to follow: He should sit for everything. Being consistent with this every day in every way is essential.
- Respect of your personal space: Don’t invade it or jump on you unless invited and, he should always sit first.
- Having expectations of what to do and when to do it: This will allow him to live a stress-free life because of the structure you provide.
Manners in your home – teach the behavior you want
He will explore with his ears, nose and especially his mouth. The rule is if he can get it into his mouth, he will eat it. It’s that simple. Usually the younger the dog, the more the rule applies. You may get lucky or get an older dog.
Taking advantage of crates, gates and exercise pens is a logical and sensible way to protect your stuff and safely control your dog when you can’t supervise him. When he is out of the crate, simply put him on a leash to control where you want him to be.
CAUTION: Do not tether your dog near by with the leash while you are busy working. He could chew through the leash and pee/poop when you are not looking. Worse yet, get his leash caught on something and choke.
Having your dog on a leash helps him to make the right decisions and also allows you to:
- Minimize jumping
- Limit where he goes, what he gets into and,
- Keep him from chasing and biting the kids.
The bottom line is that routine and consistent control of your dog can keep him safe and it will also lower his and your stress. Now that’s a win-win situation.
Some closing thoughts for you
It’s a lot more efficient spending your time and energy training preferred behaviors rather than wasting time correcting what you don’t like.
And finally, in addition to working for things he wants, engage him in short 2 minute obedience training sessions of rapid fire sits and downs every day to give him a sense of working for you and creating mental fatigue.
If dogs could talk I’m sure your dog would say, “Give me what I need to succeed!”
We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from. I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this. Comment below, I’m here to help.
Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 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.