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Humans need to feel connected to others, and we sometimes bond as deeply with our dogs as we do with those of our own species. However, the flavors of human-canine bonding can vary wildly. On one end of the spectrum are those who fall in love with dogs based on their looks, personality or intelligence. On the other end are those who become attached to dogs in order to fill the holes left by emotional wounds. There probably are as many variations of this bond as there are dog owners, and any variation can be unhealthy if proper consideration is not given to providing for the dogs' needs. So, what do dogs need from us?
When someone has a very problematic dog, I (the dog trainer) am usually the last person to know. But when I finally do hear about it, I encounter a lot of human frustration: someone at their wits' end because their dog has destroyed an expensive sofa, shredded a mattress, or uninstalled some linoleum; or someone who is feeling angry and betrayed because their dog bit them or a family member.
Training your dog to come when called is one of the most important things you can do for your best friend; in fact, it can save his life. But if you want your dog to come to you in a heavily distracting environment, particularly if he would rather be doing something else, it is important to establish a strong training foundation.
Here are some important considerations for building that foundation:
Perhaps the 80's rock band, Dire Straits, said it best when they described the rock star life style as "your money for nothing and your chicks for free." The phrase drums up images of filthy rich musicians destroying hotel rooms, getting DUIs in their Ferraris, and smashing priceless Gibson Les Paul guitars on stage as if money, civilized decoru
There are a large number of behavior issues that result directly from your dog not respecting you as his leader. Territorial marking in the home, growling or snapping at you and jumping on beds and furniture without your permission are just a few examples. Many behavior issues related to leadership perception will go away on their own when you communicate to your dog that you are the leader and he is the subordinate. This communication must take place in a language the dog can understand.
Understanding wolves helps us to understand dogs better. However, research over the last twenty years has radically altered our understanding about the nature of wolves. And while dogs are almost genetically identical to wolves, tens of thousands of years of domestication have created significant differences that should be taken into account by dog trainers and owners.
Dogs are keen observers of humans. Their ability to read our body language, tone and even facial expressions is well-known among dog trainers, and good trainers capitalize on that knowledge to make themselves and their students more effective dog handlers.
But not only are dogs aware of how we act, they are cognizant of whether we act, and sometimes doing nothing at all is a powerful way to teach a dog what is relevant and what is not.
Perhaps the most fulfilling part of my work as a dog trainer in Denver, Colorado, is seeing the bond between dogs and their owners deepen. Bonding is extremely important; the deeper the bond, the less likely a dog is to be relinquished to a shelter. Not only that, but the quality of life for both the owner and the dog increase when the bond deepens.
I. Thou shalt keep thy dog current on his shots. Your dog can contract diseases from the things it tastes on the ground, from insects that bite him, and even from other dogs' saliva. For a few bucks, you can protect him from a miserable death. There are discount clinics all over the place, so sacrifice a few lattes for your dog.