For Love of the Dog – Building Love, Trust and Respect

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Building love, trust and respectIronically, the same three characteristics that make for healthy human relationships are vital to creating a positive relationship between you and your dog. Love, trust and respect. Developing these qualities will not only make your life a lot easier, but you’ll end up with a happy, well-adjusted dog that loves, trusts and respects you as well.

Love. Loving your dog starts with making sure you’re meeting his needs. Provide high quality food and water, comfortable shelter (preferably inside the home with you), adequate veterinary care, proper socialization, exercise and lots of quality time spent with you. It’s easy to give our dogs love and affection, but we often unknowingly give that affection at the wrong time, like when our dogs are overly excited. Create a strong bond with your dog by giving praise and affection to reward desirable, positive behavior.

Trust. Your dog looks to you for direction and leadership. Trust that your dog wants to learn what’s expected of him and communicate that by being fair and consistent in the way that you and all your family members relate to the dog. Don’t break your dog’s trust by physically bullying or punishing him, being inconsistent with the rules or punishing him after the fact. Lead with fairness, positive energy and a quiet confidence and he will trust you and view you as a calm and competent leader. Assume the role of leader and protector so your dog doesn’t feel like he has to. For more information about trust, check out the post 6 Simple Ways to Build Trust With Your Dog.

Respect. Even though we have a lot in common with our canine companions and at times they seem to have human emotions, we have to respect that they deserve to be understood on their level. Since dogs don’t have the range of complex human emotions, we shouldn’t expect them to relate to us on a human level. Instead, when we view circumstances from their perspective and communicate in the language they understand, we can create a stronger relationship and more easily fix or redirect behavioral issues. Respect that your dog’s breed (or mix of breeds) can greatly affect his behavior and you may need to provide him with breed related activities to keep him happy and fulfilled.

Send your comments about how building love, trust and respect play a role or influence the relationship you have with your dog.

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8 Comments on “For Love of the Dog – Building Love, Trust and Respect”

    • Elaine, I understand about not reinforcing over excitement but how do you go about comforting a dog when they are afraid without reinforcing the behavior. Like thunderstorms, for instance?

      • Hi Sharon,
        That’s a great question! The key is not to comfort the dog with excessive petting during a thunderstorm, but find ways to distract their attention either by playing with them or by getting them interested in a treat such as a game of ‘find it’ where you hide treats around the room. It’s also important for you to stay calm and not overreact to storms since dogs often look to their owners when unusual events happen to judge our reaction. If we are feeling scared or uncertain when a storm brews up, they can pick up on our anxiety and can react with fear. In a dogs mind, he thinks “If my owner is scared, this must be something to worry about”.

        A great way to start a puppy off on the right paw (haha) is to play with him during thunderstorms. He’ll soon learn that good things happen when the wind starts to blow.

        • So I just got a dog from a shelter and you can tell he has had a bad past. Any stranger we meet he starts to growl at them until about 10 minutes of the stranger acting like he or she doesn’t care about the dog. Then he will come up to the stranger and things are fine. How do I break that first thought for my dog that everyone is out to get him

          • Hi, Dalton! How awesome that you adopted your new dog from a shelter.? Check out this post on growling:
            http://chasingdogtales.com/what-should-you-do-when-your-dog-growls-at-someone/

            If your new boy isn’t overly tense when this happens, I would see if you can distract him and have him sit and look at you, then offer a treat if he listens. You could lure him by his nose with the treat (if he’s interested in it) and turn him 90 degrees away from the person to help him relax and focus more on the food. You might have to start at a distance at first then practice closer to the people as he makes progress.

            It’s good that the strangers ignore him, rather than reaching out to him. Another thing you can try with guests (who would be strangers to him) that come into your house, is have them conceal a treat in their hand and completely ignore the dog until he comes up and discovers the scent of the treat. Then they can give it to him. It’s all about associating something positive with meeting new people.

            Anything you can do to distract him or associate something good without pressuring him will help.

            He also might be a little nervous while getting used to his new home and family so you might see him relax a little more once he feels more secure. I hope the tips are helpful and congrats on finding your new best friend! If you get a chance, I’d love to hear back later on how he’s doing. ?

    • What am I supposed to do as he growls at them. Just tell him “no, bad dog” I don’t get how to make him know it’s not acceptable

      • It’s really a hard thing not to react and want to correct them when they growl, but it’s their early warning system to let you know they’re nervous or fearful, so you don’t want to suppress that. Haley did this same thing when she was younger when we would come across little girls. It took a little time and patience to get her over that fear, but check out the link I mentioned in the other comment and it explains a lot more about how to handle that situation. ?

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