We know the bond between people and animals is mutually beneficial; emotionally, physically, and psychologically. There is even an organization known as habri that is dedicated to this bond. Habri stands for human animal bond research institute. So how can this bond benefit you in your training journey and how do you get to that beneficial bond connection?
First off let’s take a look at the benefits.
The stronger the bond between you and your dog, not only is there an increase in general health benefits for you, but there is the added bonus that with a strong bond the easier the training process can be. A strong bond usually equals a dog that wants to be with and work with you. Without that bond your dog may often be seeking out other more interesting and exciting things in the environment. (Don’t take that to mean that you don’t have a strong bond if your dog gets distracted by something of interest – we can’t always be 100% focused on just one thing or person :o) )
So, how can you work on that bond?
There are many things you can do to help build your bond with your dog:
- Spend one on one time together. This can often be forgotten or not even thought about, especially when there is more than one dog in the house or more than one person. When there are two or more dogs, don’t always do everything as a group. Take time where you spend it exclusively with the just one pup. Whether it is going for a walk, a trip in the car, or training time. Allow for opportunities where the entire process is simply one on one.
- Not all your time together needs to be busy. You don’t always need to be busy playing, training, or exercising whenever you are with your pup. Just spend time hanging out together. During that time, talk to and engage your pup. (An example on this is when you are making supper. Bring one dog to hang in the kitchen with you. They are not allowed to jump up on the counter and try to steal items, but chat with them about the day, about what a good dog they are being and occasionally when they have settled in by either just sitting for a bit or lying down, toss them a treat (end of a carrot, half a snap pea, etc). Then tell them again what a good dog they are and go back to making supper. They enjoy being the only pup out and getting to just hang with you while also having the added bonus for them to get the occasional surprise treat!
- Spend time grooming your pet. This is best started early on in their life so they get accustomed to being handled. This time together can be soothing for both and very bond forming.
- Go for a walk. Going for a walk together is another great opportunity to have time with just you and your dog. Don’t expect your dog to spend all their time during a walk to be focused on you. Allow them time to “just be a dog”, sniffing and exploring the world. BUT, definitely take advantage of the times they do focus back to you (even if it is just a look to check in) and reward them for it – verbal praise to let them know you are focused on them too, can go a long way!
- Training. Even just 5 minutes a day spend training can do a world of good not only for your bond with your dog, but for the progress of your training as well. Short training sessions let you focus on developing or enforcing just one skill, while giving you valuable engaged time together.
Building a bond with your dog goes back to the old adage: “They may not be the whole world to you, but you are their whole world”. Even on the busiest of days, taking a moment to greet your dog when you get home, providing 5 mins of training, and some extra love before bed can do a lot for you and them!