GNZ Bioscience


By Cheryl Smith

The question every dog owner asks is, “How do I get my dog to enjoy being with me and to behave the way I want it to?” 

The answer begins with your relationship with your dog! 

Without first building and then maintaining a relationship where there is trust, fun and partnership, it will be very difficult to get the dog you are wanting. 

Imagine having a relationship bank account with your dog.   

Every time you have a fun and rewarding experience together, it pays into the bank account, and every time you have a negative experience, it withdraws from that account. 

Positive experiences could be: 

  • Playing games together
  • Learning new tricks together
  • Exploring  
  • Stroking or massaging your dog 
  • Hand feeding 
  • Anything that YOUR DOG enjoys (your dog determines what it enjoys, not you) 

Negative experiences could be: 

  • Raising your voice or shouting at your dog
  • Pulling or yanking them at the end of the lead
  • Introducing too many rules too early  
  • Repetitive training 
  • Interactions with dogs or people where they have been frightened or hurt
  • Going to the vet or groomer 

Now, some of the negative experiences in life, like going to the vet, are unavoidable so we need to make sure that there is a big balance in the bank account so that our relationship stays intact after one of these experiences. 

Other negative experiences are completely avoidable.  There is never a need to yell or physically reprimand your dog. The only purpose this serves is to make us feel better as humans. 

Dogs are not purposely doing things to annoy you or to show you up, they are just being dogs.   

Often the reason they are not doing what we are asking of them is completely on us! 

We are not being vigilant or attentive enough e.g., in the case of toilet training. 

We haven’t taught a cue sufficiently and reliably enough for them to understand it everywhere (just because they can do something at home, does not mean they know how to do it out and about).   

They are overwhelmed in the environment. 

We are stressed and our voices are different making it a completely different cue. 

Our expectations are too high!! 

It is important to remember that a dog only ever gets to an emotional age equivalent to a 3-year-old human. 

They do not have the same cognitive brain power of a human and do not feel complex human emotions such as jealousy, spite or greed. 

They also do not know right from wrong.  This is an inherently human trait. 

A dog lives to seek out pleasure or avoid pain, and this is what motivates them in life. 

Our expectations are far too high to expect a 6-month-old, 1 year old or even 2-year-old dog to be perfectly trained.  They are living, breathing animals, not robots so we need to remember that things are never going to be perfect all the time.  They have good days and bad days just like human children, and us. 

Our job as their human guardians is to help them to feel safe in our world, advocate for them and help them to know they can trust us. 

They count on us for everything in their life.  Food, water, shelter, safety and enrichment.  We even dictate how much freedom they have to do what they want to do.  We are their world. 

How much they trust us and are willing to work with us depends on that relationship foundation. 

Think back to why you got yourself a dog and start building that awesome relationship with your furry best friend today! 

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