Most people have this perfect vision in their minds before they get a dog. A dog that is loyal, fun, to travel anywhere with, to spend happy moments, sad days with and one to communicate with. This perfect vision quickly comes apart when the human realises when she has no control over the dog, she can’t bring the dog anywhere, there is nothing more stressful than walking the dog. The dog simultaneously realises the human is not going to protect him or stand up for him.
What many owners want is simple. To be able to communicate with the dog. To be able to tell the dog what she wants and to know what the dog wants. What’s the hard part? – The hard part being we are different species and we speak different languages. In order to be able to communicate, we need to be able to speak the same languages and understand each other. There are undeniable only two ways to do that. ONE, have a good relationship and bond with your dog. TWO, train your dog. Imagine for a moment, how to communicate with a stranger who doesn’t speak your language. You either build a relationship and understand each other without spoken words, or you learn to speak each other’s languages. You can have a very good relationship with your dog, the type where you can eyeball each other or take a look at each other to know what’s up. Or, you train your dog so that your dog understands simple words, commands and opens up a small degree of communication. Training, is not mandatory but it allows your dog to communicate with you and it teaches your dog how to manoeuvre in your domesticate world. What we can take advantage of from training, is that it allows you a leverage of communication.
It’s easy to tell when a dog wants to be with his owner or he doesn’t care where you are or what you want. What is complicated, is how to bond or create a relationship with your dog. Surprisingly, many people do not know how to do that. Or, perhaps it’s because many get a dog for the wrong reason and many dogs end up in the wrong homes. With owners who have problems building a strong bond, training seems to be the answer in some way. True, training a dog, teaching the dog commands and teaching the dos and don’ts helps answer a lot of problems and helps with a big part of the puzzle. With that, a lot of dogs can start to understand what the owners want and many owners can now effectively communicate with the dogs. With this new skillset, owners can transfer that into bond and relationship cultivation and acquire what they want, wish and hope for with their dog.
The one downside about using only training to communicate with your dog, is that you can create an overly obedient dog that we sometimes see with trainers’ dogs. When dogs are overly in sync with training only lifestyle, the routine becomes too rigid and the life becomes predictable and what we call no-fun for the dog. There is nothing more than, routine, routine, routine, commands after commands after commands. Sure, there is no visible downside here, the dog is obedient, I can bring the dog anywhere I want. But what is missing, is the sparkle in the dog’s eyes. The sparkle that the dog has for life, for quality time to be with you, for freedom. And honestly, every dog needs that sparkle in their eyes, the sparkle that lets you know, not only does your dog enjoys training with you, he also enjoys being a dog with you. Chasing balls, dashing aimlessly in fields, herding the birds. These are what make dogs, dogs. After all, most of us fall in love with dogs because of how they see life, how they live their lives. These are the missing parts in many training. These are the missing parts that what makes other owners defensive and annoyed when we have our dogs trained. Training, should not and must not, take away your dog’s instincts and characters. If it did, you are most probably training for a robot dog. And at the end of the day, you get not a dog that wants you, but a dog that is trained to be with you.
When you successfully balance and integrate both training and bonding, you will have a dog that wants to be with you not because you trained the dog, not because the dog is afraid, not because the dog has no other choice, not because the dog is in a command, but a dog that is willing to do so, a dog that is excited to be with you.