In a lot of ways learning how to bond with your dog is comparable to learning to drive a car. Nearly all of our actions when driving are done in the subconscious part of our brain.
It would only be in testing situations that we would have to react differently and in simple terms, once we create that bond with our dogs, nearly all of the training methods we learn and practice with our dogs become second nature, automatic if you will.
This, of course, makes the whole process of having a dog even more enjoyable as you are seeing real results from the work you are putting in with your dog.
And it is work people. You really do need to look at it that way, in the beginning at least.
You are putting into place a positive program of instruction that you want your dog to follow.
So as a follow on to my last article about How To Stop A Dog Barking, we now find ourselves in the realms of actually taking our dog out for walks.
This is a completely different aspect and like learning to drive a car, we have to pass a test before we are allowed to be road legal, with a dog it’s very different.
One the most important times daily that we get to bond with our dog is on it’s daily (sometimes 4 times a day with my dog!) walks.
This is a great time for them and it should be for you, not just because you are getting quality time to hang out together, but also the fitness side of things as well. You will feel better from walking your dog and that is a confirmed fact!
Without question, you can just open the door and off you go, but is that the best thing to do?
Is it best for you or your dog to go out without any rules or action plans for most eventualities?
The health care of our dogs is vitally important to not only their welfare, your happiness, their happiness…but also your wallet!
If things go wrong in the domain of the general public it can have terrible results.
It is the law in the UK that a dog HAS to be under the control of its owner at all times!
There are some fundamentals we need to put in place.
We need to have some skills first and like the last article, we learned that the best place to train our new pet is in our home first.
We are laying down a blueprint for our dogs to follow and it would be great if that blueprint is also followed away from the home too.
This can only be achieved through trial and tribulation and getting our dogs to respond to us correctly.
The cornerstones that you ideally want your dog to be include walking calmly at your side.
To be able to stay, sit and also the powers of recall are the essential traits we want our dogs to be able to do, but we can look at them in future articles.
In fact, there is a great video by Zak George that covers the whole sitting aspect and it’s well worth a watch.
These can be learned in house and usually as long as you put the work in with your dog, they can all be boxed off to an acceptable level with 2 weeks.
Dogs are smart and quick to remember and they will learn if you give them a chance. They all learn at differing speeds, so stick with it and your dog will get there.
Getting Your Dog To Come To You
Always use reward-based treats to get your dog to come to you. This is relatively easy.
You can start easily, for instance, being in the same room and saying to them “Come here (dogs name)” and when they do, you give them that tasty little morsel or tidbit.
Progress to being out of their line of sight and do it again….change rooms…go in the garden or yard (if you have one) and each time they come, they get the reward.
It’s astonishing how quickly they get this. But remember, in the early term of this they MUST ALWAYS get that reward..the tidbit.
This hard-wires them to get a reward for doing something that you want them to do.
That said, going forward, we also need to reduce the number of times the tidbit is given. After a suitable amount of time, maybe a few days of your dog always coming and getting the reward, instead of giving the reward every time, make it every third time or longer.
Your dog is trusting you and your bond is growing so instead of every time a food reward, a gentle stroke under the chin and a “Good Boy” or “Good Girl” is perfectly fine.
Your dog is still getting a reward, it’s just not food-based this time.
Taking Charge On Your Dog Walk
An important factor here is that it is YOU who is walking the dog, not the other way round.
Have you ever seen someone being pulled by their dog? Not a good look is it and it says two things to me:
A) They can’t control their dog
B) Their dog has no respect for them and doesn’t see them as the Alpha.
This is a situation we never want to be in as responsible owners.
An important factor to remember here is that every time you take your dog for a walk, it means different things to both of you.
To you it may simply mean it’s time to take the dog out to do its business and stretch your legs and exercise the dog, the dog sees it differently.
Every time you put that lead on the dog it feels that you are going on a mission, a hunt if you like and this is going back to the whole pack mentality that is hard-wired into our dog’s DNA.
If you have never walked your dog before it is essential that you get them used to a lead at home. Remembering our training of giving them a reward when they come, you can do this and once you put the lead on their collar, reward them again.
It’s showing the dog that the lead or leash is fine to have on.
I use a rope style leash as they are strong and durable. I have a strong dog but try to get a lead that is comfortable for you and gives you the right kind of control. In the early stages of dog walking with a new dog, do not use elastic extension leads as it’s pretty much impossible to control your dog if they are 25 feet away from you.
This is the lead I use. It is incredibly strong and gives you 100% confidence when walking your dog.
Your dog will be excited about the walk, but again keep calm and ignore this and gradually the dog will realize that it’s isn’t getting the attention it wants and will quieten down.
You don’t put the lead on until your dog is calm and then when you do, a reward, a tidbit.
OK, so off we go on our walk!
Keep your dog close to you and EVERY time they try to pull, and they will try to pull because they are off hunting remember, you relax the lead and STOP THE WALK.
Get them to come back to your side and then you start the walk again. And repeat until your dog gets it!
They will get it, that is the important message…dogs are smart and they want to please us, so eventually, you will be able to walk your dog quite happily.
Dog Pulling On The Lead is without a doubt one of the most common problems you will face and essentially it is because of the huge excitement that our dogs are thinking about, the outside, the smells..it’s all really amazing stuff for them.
But you must ensure you don’t buy into this behavior. You have to really keep at this and do not get into a pulling war as this says to the dog “hey great..another game to play” Plus of course, it really is unpleasant for both parties and can result in injuries to both of you.
Dog’s need to play for sure but it has to be by YOUR rules, not theirs. They have no filters and their idea of play can be dangerous to them and us.
I really want you to understand that this really doesn’t take long for the penny to drop and you will be so amazed when it does and you will be well on your way to being able to train your dog.
So to recap, you will of learned how to get your dog to come to you in the home and you are now able to have great walks with your dog without them pulling your arm out of it’s socket and I think both of these things are pretty special skills when creating that bond with your dog.
This great video by Zak George will also help you understand the concepts of stopping our dogs pulling on the leash.