Be Your Dog’s Joy
There are many things that dog guardians can do to improve their dog’s manners and listening skills. Over the last three years blogging, I’ve mentioned many things but as I was reflecting on my blogging the other day, I realized that I have skipped over a critical piece of the puzzle. If you want your dog to respond to you reliably, you absolutely must be a source of joy for your dog.
The relationship you have with your dog will dictate, almost more than science, how well your dog will respond and how enthusiastically he responds. History of reinforcement is important but if you simply ARE a reinforcement for your dog, it makes it that much more likely for success. Yes, I am the source of all things awesome for my dogs but I like to think, based on our interactions, I simply AM the awesome thing.
I make it a point each and every day to get on the ground and either cuddle, snuggle, or play with my dogs without the aid of some type of toy–just me and my dog having a joyous moment together. These moments build such a great bond and relationship between the two of us that makes all the rest of our work together that much easier. We have these great connections and we find genuine joy being together and working together–it goes beyond the cookies or the toys.
It’s one of the intangibles that is hard to explain and express to people, but if you can build up that relationship and bond, magic can happen.
Unfortunately there is no single recipe for building that relationship and being your dog’s joy. It all depends on what your dog finds pleasurable and reinforcing, but there are some things that I think are common among most dogs.
**Be a source of safety for your dog–be your dog’s best advocate and help them negotiate the world safely
**Be a good listener–listen to what your dog’s body language is saying and respect it
**Learn how to BE your dog’s Joy–without the aid of an interface or medium like toys or treats, what can YOU do to be your dog’s joy? Some dogs it may be massages, other dogs it may be wrestling together, and other dogs it may just be being close and sweet talking
It may sound obvious, but I do think guardians often overlook this aspect of their training and it is always good to be reminded that at the heart of this all should be the bond and relationship we cultivate with our dogs.