Why is it that some dogs adore their owners and love nothing more than to be around them and fulfill their wishes, while others prefer to go their way? “Bonding” is the magic word, and this invisible, strong bond has less to do with magic than with a few solid rules.
“Many people unwittingly undermine a good relationship with their dog,” dog trainer Victoria Schade has observed and has now summarized her findings on what promotes the much-coveted bond and what disturbs it in a book.
The quintessence here is that a really strong and reliable bond is not created through dominant behavior on the part of humans and assuming the role of “alpha animal” that was often cited in the past, but through mutual respect, reliability, and trust. The basic principles of species-appropriate, modern dog training, which is based on scientific findings from learning theory, are not so dissimilar to those of successful child training. “Leadership yes, oppression no,” says Schade and explains in detail why a dog has to earn privileges and rights, why it has to learn politeness and how to deal with frustration, and how observing small rules of conduct can enormously increase its reputation.
It is important to learn a little “doglike” and to pay attention to what your dog wants to tell you: “Dogs try to communicate with us all the time,” says Schade, “but unfortunately we understand it all too often they don’t or don’t even realize it. That must be frustrating for the sociable four-legged friends.” Especially if we then completely disregard canine etiquette, such as never staring directly into the eyes of the person opposite you or walking towards them head-on. “But if you at least try to understand your dog better and understandably communicate with him, he’s usually overjoyed,” says Schade. Sort of like struggling to say “please”, or “thank you”.
Victoria Schade’s tips may not make a Lassie out of every dog, but they are guaranteed to help improve the relationship between dog and human and are also a lot of fun.