The 3 most important things you need to have with your pup is Love, Respect and Trust. If you are reading this or you’ve worked with me in the past means that you Love your dog and that love is not something to be concerned about. Respect and trust seems to be more of a struggle in my years of experience. For some reason there’s a lot of confusion here.
So let’s start with Respect. Respect is commonly miss-understood with showing who is the boss. It has nothing to do with it. You don´t ask , demmand or gain respect. This is not something you achieve. Respect is something that you give and you get back in return.
The question is how do I give respect to my dog? The answer is simple: acknowledge and treat your dog as a dog.
Let me explain this with an example. If I treat you as a dog, you´ll agree with me that I´m miss-respecting you. Well, if you treat your dog as a human you’re mis-respecting your dog. I could write an entire book about how to Acknowledge dogs as dogs, but to keep things simple I´ll give you a couple of tips for you to be aware and to think about:
1- Instead of talking to your dog, listen to your dog. 95% of dog´s communication is through body language and energy. Meaning in silence. Yet 90% of my clients do not know how to communicate with their dogs in silence. Dog´s don’t understand English or Spanish or Chinese.
2- Understand your relationship with your dog. Who is the parent? Who is in charge? If your dog is in charge don’t expect him or her to listen to you. Respect the relationship and accept your responsabilities.
Being a parent is a privilege, not a right or entitlement. Dogs don’t care about liability, human laws or rules. They have no idea how to behave in a human environment. They need you as a guide and as a leader. Understanding your relationship means to accept your role as a parent or decision maker and to be accountable for it.
3- Be aware of your state of mind. This is a big one! If you are not in control of yourself don’t expect your dog to listen to you in a willing and a cooperative way.
What I mean by this is to be in control of your body language and your energy. This is a skill that you might need to re-learn. We are animals too. Body language and energy is not a foreign language to us. This is our common and universal language.
4- Be aware of your your dog´s sate of mind. This is huge! You have to be sensitive and reactive to your dogs state of mind instead of trying to impose your dog training program. Dogs are not computers. Ex: If your pup is anxious and you give her a treat because you feel sorry, you are rewarding anxiety. Even if your pup sat down for the treat.
5. Be present. Dog´s can’t live in the past or in the future. They can only live in the present. So don’t allow your mind to take over and navigate around time. Be present!!
So, How about Trust?
Although all the above applies for getting your dog to trust you, the main way to gain trust with your pup is with Leadership. By leadership I mean taking the responsability to take over and being accountable. I don’t mean entitlement or dictatorship. The difference between Leadership and entitlement or dictatorship is that the first one comes from acceptance and the later ones come from imposition, force and fear.
Your dog won’t trust you if you don’t lead with confidence and calmness. The same way you wouldn’t trust someone that doesn’t know what she or he is doing. Think about it. What would you do when you come into a place where the crew doesn’t know what they’re doing? Well, you either take over, you get out of there if you can or you crap in your pants. And that’s what dogs do too!!
© Gabriel Riesco, Fairfield CT, November 2017