How to bond with your dog; Positive reinforcement training basics
Is a bond with your dog different than any other bond? How do I know if my dog loves and respects me
Travis Brorsen is someone you may have heard of before. He was the winner of CBS’ “Greatest American Dog” and the host of “My Big Fat Pet Makeover” on Animal Planet! In this interview, he enlightened me on exactly what a good bond with your dog is all about!
A Dog-Owner bond is a combination of LOVE. TRUST and RESPECT. “I adopted a boxer, and by the time he was 14 months old, in hindsight, I had done everything wrong. I put him in his crate when he did something bad, I negatively reinforced him, I used the wrong equipment, and so on. He loved me, but he did not respect or trust me. I then went on CBS show “Greatest American Dog” and was surrounded by different dog trainers. Some used dominance training and some positive reinforcement, and I took what worked for me, which was positive reinforcement methods.”
From this experience, Travis learned, and through training himself as a human dog owner, his dog gained respect for him that he had never had, and the amazing bond was formed.
Dog Behavior Basics:
Dogs will always love but they will not always respect you:
Gaining your dog’s respect is a crucial part of the bond that your dog and you need. This respect is formed by boundaries and showing your dog where the “comfort zone” is with positive reinforcement. “We must reward our dogs for making the right choices.”
Dogs respond to rewards:
Rewards can be many different things including treats, pets, affection, eye contact, verbal praise, food, etc. “Teasing is an emotion that dogs do not experience, so it is ok when you say ‘sit’ and give a treat and say ‘good boy’ and then the third time say ‘sit’ and only say ‘good boy’ and don’t give a treat. Your dog feels just the same amount of reward. They see the ‘good boy’ as a reward as well!”
Owner’s must pick the right reward
The reward needs to be more interesting to your pup than the distractions of the environment. If you are at home, food may be enough of a reward to get your dog’s attention, but if you are at the park with other dogs, you may need a super tasty treat, like this one made by Travis himself!
Dogs need to “work:”
“A tired dog has purpose, an excited dog needs purpose:” Your dog is made to “work.” He or she thrives on doing, and by giving your dog this stimulation, your dog feels purpose.
Dogs respond to human emotion and behavior:
Your behavior and consistency as an owner affects your dog’s behavior. “I have had clients who say, ‘ help us get our dog to stop running to the door and jumping when someone comes over.’ I help them to realize that every time they come home, they let their dog jump and then pet (reward) their dog. By changing their behavior, they communicate to their dog what is ok.”
Training as a part of bonding should be fun and feel like a game for your dog:
Your dog needs to be interested in learning. It needs to be fun and exciting for the owner and the pup!
Training your dog can be part of everyday activities:
Rewarding your dog affirms two things to them: their location (at the front door, etc) and their state of mind. These two things are reinforced when you reward your pup, so be mindful of when you reward because you are training in these every day experiences.
Dog Behavior Changes when:
- You as an owner understand “why” your dog is doing certain things (positively being reinforced)
- When you as an owner consistently positively reinforce the good behavior.
How to start:
- Pick one skill (sit is a great one!)
- At meal time, spend 10 min (or 5 min at each meal time) practicing the skill, using the food as a reward.
- Repeat for 7 days
*** Note for those that say “My dog isn’t food motivated:” “Dogs are supposed to be a little hungry all of the time. Every dog should be motivated by food. If they are not, they are either overfed, have an allergy or some other deeper problem that needs to be addressed. It’s not healthy for us as humans to always be full, so why would it be for our pets?”
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