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Relationships & Relevancy

Our relationships with our canines are based on relevancy. As a matter of fact, relationships are solely based on what the counterpart brings to the table and vice versa. Like when you see a loved one in a crowded room. You have a connection with that person and it’s clear by the way they respond to you.

Being relevant to your canine means they look to you before making their next decision. Eye contact before going through doorways, check-ins on walks, following your leadership in new situations are some great examples of being relevant to your furry friend.

One of the first things we ask clients that have worked with trainers previously with no success,

“Have you ever been taught about relevancy with your dog?”. The answer is often no, while delivering a blank stare like we are speaking a foreign language. And we are.

Let’s get one thing clear. If you are not relevant to your dog, dog training will be like trying to get a young child to clean up a ravaged bedroom! They will feel overwhelmed and most likely unresponsive! We want dog training to be as easy as possible. We are already dealing with difficult behaviors in the midst of our usually chaotic lives. Why should we make anything harder on ourselves?

You may be wondering, why is relevancy is so important? Especially if it’s some thing you’ve not heard of.

It’s all about survival. You are vital to your dog because you provide life sustaining resources. You also provide stability, nurturing love, and essential stimulation. Providing these things makes you down right important! If you provide all of these things for your dog and they still blow you off when you ask a simple ‘sit’ or take off after squirrel after you clearly said no, you are not relevant to your pooch.

This is where operant conditioning comes in. Operant conditioning in a nut shell is when a dog performs a behavior based on the consequences of their actions. Basically, teaching your dog that their decisions matter. When you stop allowing your dog to come and go as they please and enforce basic rules, you will finally gain their respect. Once respect is mutually built, you can start to trust your dog to make good decisions that benefits your relationship as a whole.

Here are a few pointers to get you looking better to your dog than their favorite snack!

Learn the art of the leash! Pressure is so important in our relationships with canines. Reward your pup anytime you don’t feel tension on that leash. Start with basic exercises in your back yard before hitting the distracting streets!

  1. Eye contact. Start rewarding for eye contact when it’s given. Having that connection before going outside or hitting the dog park is crucial! Patience is key with this one. Dogs are clever creatures.

  2. Start teaching boundaries. You can start with meal time. Your dog should patiently wait to eat it’s food until you’ve said so. Even once the bowl has been set down! Wait for that eye contact and watch the relevancy in your relationship start to unfold.

There are probably hundreds of ways to build relevancy in your relationship with your dog. You can get creative in your home and in public, using repetition & reinforcement to get amazing results quickly. We get so excited to live life with our canines that we forget to just simply build that strong bond first.

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