How will you build a bond with your dog?
You’re getting a dog, and are excited. You hope to build a bond that will last throughout the life of your new pet. But do you know what will most likely help you to develop a strong, lasting relationship?
B. Love? or
Attraction and Love
Dog lovers all can recognize that instant attraction of “Oh my, who is that dog?” Sometimes it is love at first sight. What causes the connection? It can be our history with dogs or similarities to a dog we knew in the past. It can be a specific feature that catches our eye—big brown eyes, fuzzy ears, wagging tail or coat color. Puppies in particular often attract new owners, because they are so cute.
If you adopt a dog, it may indeed become a well-loved part of your family. Yet attraction and love are not enough to insure a pet will remain in a home with everyone happy. A dog needs manners, too. Unruly behaviors, unreliable housetraining, and even normal behaviors like digging, jumping and chewing can frustrate families.
Frustration usually sets in after about six months. Owners realize they did not plan for time to housetrain, exercise and supervise a young puppy or dog. The children really don’t have any interest in a pet that jumps on them or chews on their stuff. Eventually we don’t like the dog we love. Even temporary frustrations can cause a total break in the bond, and too many great, trainable dogs end up in shelters. Often owners wait too long to help their pet when a little training, supervision, management and exercise could have taught good manners and kept the pet in his home.
The good news, is that while training takes some work and much consistency, it is well worthwhile. It can even take less time than expected, when done in a consistent and loving way and integrated with times you are giving your pet attention anyway.
We have learned that training affects the bond to the point where, excluding an owner’s life changes, it is extremely rare for our shelter to take in a dog who has been through any formal dog training classes. Commitment to participate, practice to get proficient, peer pressure in classes to practice what you are taught, and success experienced at home really makes a difference.
The outcome is completely different when an owner realizes “Having a well-behaved dog begins with me!”
If you are getting a dog, or have a dog you may be losing patience with, there is help available. Check out dog training or obedience classes, which may be offered by your local shelter. You can also learn training tips from books and DVDs, including those we offer. Here’s one video that shows a beginning lesson in puppy training. You can see that it does require patience, but a puppy can begin learning very quickly and have fun at the same time.