As I wrote in my previous post, I run across dogs who just wish they were anywhere than with their people. If you want a better relationship with your dog, if you want to matter to your dog, there are some things you can do.
I asked my husband to get a picture of Talos and I.
As you can see from this outtake shot, it was hard to get just Talos in the shot. That’s Lily and Nemo trying their best to get in on the action.
When we’re around, the dogs want to be with us.
Sure, they like to sniff the ground and chase the birds, but they want to do it with us. They aren’t straining at the leash, oblivious to our presence.
How did we manage to do that?
- We are always safe. The dogs know we’re always a safe place to be. No matter what. Even if they have a dead squirrel, a chewed up shoe, or the remote. We’re never to be feared. Ever. We also teach them that we’ll keep them safe. If there’s something scary, we’ll protect them. They know that we’ve got their back.
- We make the fun even better. If the dogs are playing nicely together, sometimes I’ll join them. I’ll run around the yard with them, chasing them, being chased, feinting left and right. Sometimes I’m crazy and unpredictable, other times I run straight ahead – an easy mark. Sure, they have fun playing together, but it’s always more fun when I decide to join in the mayhem.
- We engage the dogs in activities that require us, the people. Fetch, tug, chase. It’s hard to play any of these games by yourself if you’re a dog. We make those games come alive!
- We engage in those activities often. Not just on weekends. Not just when we have time. We make time every day to partner with our dogs and enjoy something fun together.
- We are the gatekeepers to all things good. We are the ones that put the leash on, open the door to go outside, throw the ball, put food in their bowl, rub their bellies. Make good use of the access you afford the dog: ask for a simple behavior, sit for example, before doing any of these things for your dog, and you’ve automatically made yourself a rock star in your dog’s eyes. Wow, they think – you are SO cool! YOU let me go outside. YOU let me sniff that bush. YOU put my leash on. YOU put food in my bowl. YOU play with me.
- We are consistent in our behavior and our rules. We act the same every day. The rules never change. Predictability is a good thing to a dog. We don’t let a dog jump sometimes, and then other times reprimand him for jumping. We don’t sometimes let them bolt through the door and other times correct them for running out. Our expectations are clear, unchanging, and known to the dog.
- Every now and then, we just sit together. That’s it, that’s all. Nothing fancy. Just sit and watch the world go by. I like to sit on the grass with my dogs and watch all the different ways their noses move. Or their ears. When we were at Lake Anna last weekend, I doggie paddled next to Tango out to a floating dock, maybe 100 yards away. Just him and I, swimming in tandem. He’d occasionally look over at me as we swam, checking me out. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done with him. And I’m pretty sure he enjoyed it, too.