“I will give you a reward if you sit…”
“I will pet you if you won’t move from your spot for a while…”
“I will love you if you will be a good dog…”
They sure do, because these phrases, often with ‘ifs’, are part of the common conditional affection approach for most dog trainings.
However, conditional affection-based trainings are not at all foolproof. In fact, they are potentially damaging to your relationship with your dog; as a result, these might make your dog even more anxious than you know it. You might even be the very cause of his “bad” behavior!
So how can you correct YOUR behavior as an owner, and foster your relationship with your dog?
Here are seven ways:
1) Value your relationship with your dog
Dogs are similar to us, humans. Like us, they also socialize and maintain relationships, but we seem to take little notice of this.
If a human feels loved and valued by another human he loves, the former will be motivated to make that other human happy. It’s the same with your dog. If he feels he’s being loved, he will do whatever it takes to make you happy.
As with any other relationship, empathy plays a big role in maintaining a strong and steady relationship. You may not notice it, but your dog surely makes every effort possible to understand you, so take the effort and try to understand your dog. Try to be in his shoes and study what you can do for him.
3) Build Trust
Trust could be the very foundation of love; and with love, secured attachment patterns develop. Therefore, learn to trust your dog for your dog to be able to trust you.
You will have to make your dog feel secure with your company, by responding to his needs and showering him with affection without conditions. Anxiety triggers most problem behaviors among dogs but making your dog feel loved and secure lessens his anxiety.
4) Loosen Your Control
Your dog’s problem behaviors may be your dog’s reaction to stress. If you’ve been trying to train your dog in an effort to control him and still notice behavioral problems, it’s probably about time to loosen your control a little bit.
It’s possible that you ‘training’ your dog is giving your dog a hard time to process. Loosen your control a little bit and see how it goes.
5) Allow Your Dog to Learn on Its Own
A dog’s brain and a human brain are not the same, and the learning process varies between the two. However, a dog could actually learn something on its own at its own time.
Learning for dogs can be a little tricky as it could be an internally motivated process. This process requires time for the dog to ‘realize’ what is good behavior and what is not.
With this approach, the dog will have to be allowed to observe his human and his environment to be able to direct his own behavior.