How Is Your Relationship With Your Dog?

If your dog Comes happily, allows grooming, accepts a leash and collar, likes playing with you, likes being petted by you, listens to your commands, can be left home alone without distress or destruction, and doesn’t have to be left in the yard while you are gone, then you have a good relationship with your dog. How does your dog stack up?

One of the first tests I do with a dog is to see if the dog will Come over to the owner for affection if called. Without the owner using a demanding voice or threatening body language. If I don’t see that, something is wrong. Next, I want to see how the dog accepts the owner put on a leash and collar. That is also quite revealing. Many dogs aren’t good with that at all. And so on.

I see owners fail these tests all the time. It’s not the dog’s fault, it is the owner’s (or if a new dog, the previous owner’s) fault for ignoring or creating these conflicts.

Students are often surprised by the results of these initial tests. It is also not surprising to me when I see how they are relating to their dogs. It is important for me to teach them how to fix their relationships prior to doing whatever training they initially hired me to do. 

I talked to an owner recently who was having behavior problems with their dog. They admitted that they had purchased an electric collar, but it didn’t work for them. Once I showed them that their relationship had problems, it all started to make sense to them. This was a dog that was not only afraid of strangers, the dog was also afraid of her owners. It wasn’t obvious until we did some of these tests. There was no way we were going to get this dog comfortable, feeling safe, around strangers if the dog wasn’t comfortable and feeling safety when with her owners. 

This also crops up in the obedience lessons. I’ve seen plenty of dogs that didn’t come because the dogs didn’t like coming to their owners. In fact, the dogs would come readily to me, because we didn’t have a history. But the owners couldn’t get the dogs to come to them. 

Maybe the reason your dog isn’t behaving the way you want because this is the fundamental block that is missing. Try calling your dog. No treats. Does your dog quickly come and want to be with you, wanting your touch and affection and giving the same back to you, or is your dog indifferent or avoiding you? Start with that and let me know how that is going. You might be doing things wrong and need a tune up.

Intro Video