Improving Your Rapport with Your Dog!

Many of us could use a relationship makeover with our dogs.  Countless times, training problems are created by relationship issues between the dog and the owner.  Too often, the owner feels that giving treats, affection, or allowing their dog to do as he likes, is the answer to building a strong relationship, and acquiring their dog’s love.


Building rapport with your dog takes planning his home life, setting definite boundaries, and reinforcing rules.  What will improve your relationship and rapport will depend on the current status of your relationship with your dog.  Read over the following, and see if any ideas might help improve your relationship with your dog.

Mealtime.  Take advantage of mealtimes to train a few skills, or even modify a behavior.  Plan feeding times with your dog before the bowl is filled.  Once the meal is fixed, place the bowl on the counter and get to work.  Pick new and exciting skills to test your dog’s knowledge.  Keep varying the skills and see how eager he becomes when working for his food!

Pick up the toys.  Your dog needs to look to you to provide the “fun things” in life.   When you want your dog to play, go get out a few toys, and use those toys to interact with your dog.  When you are finished playing with your dog, put the toys up!   Use this time to teach your dog to tug, retrieve, or just to play with you!  Interacting is a great rapport building opportunity.

“Walkies”.  Going for a “structured walk” with your dog is a great way to get exercise, and spend some quality time with your dog.  What is a “structured walk”? It is taking your dog on a walk, but set a brisk pace with no stops, etc.   Take advantage of the time and do some training randomly along the way.  Walks should be in a controlled position.  This means that your dog is to walk next to you either on your right, or on your left.  No switching sides!  While it’s OK to stop for a potty break when YOU choose, it is not OK for your dog to sniff every blade of grass or pee on every tree.  You set the pace, and make the rules for the walk.  What a great way to burn energy AND bond with your dog.

Crate time.  As much as it pains us, time apart is a GOOD thing!  Leave your dog crated at home once in a while, and let him learn what it is like to be without you.  We don’t always have to be interacting and touching our dog.  Time apart will build your dog’s desire to be with you.  As a result, your dog will WORK harder when you are together, and give more effort to gain your attention.

Train!  A busy dog is a happy dog.  Providing mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. You would be surprised at how quickly a dog will become tired after a quick training session.  Teach your dog to spin, crawl, sit, down, or any other trick.  Training of any kind will help mentally stimulate your dog.  Skills, or tricks are great ways to get your dog’s mind working.

Anytime you are having training/showing problems with your dog, look at home life first!  Structure and boundaries in everyday life set the foundations for a wonderful companion and teammate.

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