Being in a relationship with a dog is not unlike any relationship in many ways. Specifically, we can do things in our relationship that will cause our partner to appreciate us or even to be annoyed with us. Of course that works both ways. Rather than focus on the negative I thought I would focus on the positive and address the things we can do that our dog will love us for.
1) Being a Pet Parent - this may seem obvious, but our dogs really appreciate us when we act as a parent and not an alpha pack leader. Actually the Alpha Pack Leader is a myth. This has been proven to be a myth by scientists like Dr. L. David Meck who studied wolves in the wild for years in northern Canada. He determined there is no alpha pack leader. Since dogs are linked to wolves Temple Grandin describes how dogs, based on their behavior, need parents and not alpha pack leaders. So thinking of ourselves as a parent is relating to our dogs based on love and respect. Being Alpha is often fear based. Our dogs prefer love over fear.
2) Nutrition - Dogs do not like being fed the same dry food every day of their life. Part of a healthy lifestyle is good nutrition. Fresh fruits and vegetables are good for both dogs and pet parents. Human grade organic foods are excellent source of nutrition for our dogs. Dogs need balance and variety in their diet. Dogs prefer human grade food that tastes good. This kind of nutrition has a positive impact on our dogs health. Your dog will be happy and thank you for this kind of nutrition.
3) Using one or two words to communicate - Our dogs don't like it when we use so many words and repeat these many words over and over to ask them to do something, Using one or two words or a few word phrase is all you need to teach your dog to associate a desirable behavior with the words you speak. Not only your dog will love this but you will too.
4) Being patient - especially when our dogs are going to the bathroom or eating. Do you find yourself rushing your dog to go to the bathroom...giving him the command over and over again? Dogs will go to the bathroom when they are ready and not before. They are not defying our request when they take their time. Also, every dog eats at their own pace. I have two dogs who eat very differently. One is very fast and one is much slower. For these two specific activities, dogs will love you for being patient.
5) Enjoyable walks - our dogs love their walks. It is an opportunity for them to sniff and enjoy all the scents around them. Our dogs scent ability is one of their most significant strengths if not the most significant. We ask our dogs to sniff out drugs, bombs, disease, lost persons, and much more. When on a walk sniffing is an enjoyable experience for a dog. Rushing the walk and not letting our dogs sniff is in conflict with what our dogs would prefer. An enjoyable walk is one taken with plenty of time to sniff.
6) Speaking in a normal tone - yelling is not pleasant for our dogs. Their hearing is very sensitive and yelling only confuses them. Speaking in a normal tone and even a lower tone is best. Using as few words as possible and speaking clearly and with a normal tone will be positively received by dogs. Save the loud tone and even yell for when you need it. For the time your dog may run toward the street or some other troublesome incident like eating something that could be harmful. Your dog will know when you mean business if you use that tone sparingly and only when absolutely necessary.
7) Petting a dog correctly - most dogs do not like having a body or hand reach over their head to pet them. If you think about how intimidating that can feel to a dog it makes sense they do not like it. Approaching a dog from the side and petting them on the back or side is preferred by most dogs. Your dog will love you for instructing others to pet them the same way,
8) Treating a dog like a dog - many times we find ourselves treating our dogs like our human children. Talking to them in a high pitched voice and using baby talk, is very confusing to our dogs. They really don't know what to make of it. Rather respecting our dog as the dog they are and also as a member of our family is most appreciated by our dogs. We are parents to human and canine children. Respecting their differences and enjoying the similarities is awesome for everyone in the family.
9) Appropriate use of crates - crate training done well is a wonderful alternative for dogs. Using positive crate training techniques makes a crate a special place for a dog to be. Our crates are open all the time. When I can't find Jazz I know he is likely spending some alone time in his crate. Abusing a crate and keeping a dog in them all day long is not good for our dogs. Having someone come and walk your dog during the day will give him a break and allow him to go to the bathroom which is a primary need. Finding a special place in the house allocated for your dog to spend time in while you are gone is a good option as well. Doggie day cares are another option. Your dog will love you for keeping his crate a positive place to be.
10) Respecting your dog is a sentient being - teasing our dogs and shaming our dogs is not funny to them. Dogs are sentient beings meaning they have feelings like humans do. Dogs feel love, fear, pain, happiness and more. When we tease a dog by with holding a toy or treat and do not give it to the dog, that is mean and not cute in my perception. When we shame a dog they feel bad. You can see it in their eyes and their face. One of the most significant things we can do is respect our dogs are sentient beings. Our dogs will love us so much for that.
May you have many loving experiences with your dog!
Woofs & Smiles!