To have a really great relationship with your pet dog, you need to work on that relationship constantly. It's not enough to build a few foundations and expect your relationship to blossom with little or no extra effort. Time spent reinforcing the bond between you and your dog is time well spent, and will enrich your relatonship providing you both with the fun and rewards that dog ownership brings.
Make sure that you spend quality time with your dog. As dog owners we are all aware of the need to exercise and train your dog. The time spent on these activities will vary according to your dogs needs, however, this time should be rewarding and enjoyable for your dog. When walking with your dog, make sure that you talk and interact with your dog. Play a game of fetch or chase. All dogs love to chase, and taking an active role in this game will not only keep you fit, but will help you engage with your dog in a fun and simple way.
Be animated when you communicate with your dog. During the day, your dog will hear you converse with many different people, either on the phone or in person, and will generally filter out most of the conversation. With your tone of voice you can communicate to your dog that something is interesting or fun, or that something is undesirable or naughty. Dogs have extremely sensitive hearing and are very much attuned to your moods and tone of voice, use this to your advantage. Attract your dogs attention by using a friendly voice that is slightly higher pitched than your normal speaking voice.
Never forget the importance of physical contact. When your dog is near, make the effort to stroke their head or neck and talk in a soothing voice. If you are in the park, and your dog bounds over to you, make a fuss of them, make being near you a rewarding experience for your dog. This will not only reinforce the bond you and your dog have, but it will also aid recall. If you have problems recalling your dog, practice this when they are off the lead. Several times during the walk, call your dog to you and reward them for coming with a treat or a cuddle, and then let them carry on with what they were doing. If you only recall your dog when they are naughty or to put them on the lead, your dog will associate punishment or the end of the walk with coming when called. If you have been out, greet your dog properly when your return - being away from you is never enjoyable for your dog. Make the time to cuddle or play a quick game to celebrate your return. This is very natural for dogs, they will do this to other dogs they know and like, so this behaviour is something they understand.
Ask yourself, if you were your dog, would you enjoy the time you spend together. Try to be fun for your dog. We all have busy days, bad days and sad days, but your dog relies upon you to provide the love and support it needs, and will give you loyalty and friendship in return. Your dog doesn't need or understand your stress, but they are affected by it. On a bad day, make a point of having a game or cuddling with your dog, and you'll probably find it helps you too.
About the Author - Jane Earley Dog owner and online pet shop owner. www.sparkysden.co.uk