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10 Things to Stop Doing to Improve Relationship with Your Dog | Pupford

January 30th, 2024

Filed under Pet Parenting

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What are your goals when it comes to your relationship with your dog?

It’s a pretty safe bet that they include having a great relationship – after all, you found your way to a website that’s dedicated to having a happy, healthy pup.

But we are humans after all, and sometimes even with the best of intentions we do things that can negatively impact the relationship we have with our pups.

Today we’ll take a look at some common things you may be doing that you should stop if you’re looking to have a happier, healthier relationship with your dog – and the alternatives we recommend.

10 THINGS TO STOP DOING SO YOU CAN HAVE A BETTER RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR DOG

So if you want to have the best possible relationship with your pup, you should stop…

1. NEGLECTING TRAINING SESSIONS

remember to incorporate dog training into your daily schedule

Training sessions are some of the most impactful and meaningful moments you spend with your dog in their whole day. They help keep your dog’s routine, grow your dog’s confidence by learning new skills, and strengthen your bond.

But what if your dog has already mastered the basics and successfully learned advanced behaviors? Is there a point to continuing training sessions?

YES!

Keeping training sessions in your dog’s routine, even if you’re practicing skills they already know, helps keep their behaviors sharp. It also sets your dog up for a lot of wins. Wins = positive reinforcement = happiness and confidence = your dog responds better to you – repeat the cycle!

Just remember to not get overwhelmed by training sessions. Training sessions can be short and sweet and still be very effective!

2. PUNISHING YOUR DOG FOR UNWANTED BEHAVIOR

Unfortunately there’s an approach to dog behavior modification that believes punishing a dog will teach them what not to do, and therefore lead to the right behavior.

But all this does is confuse your dog and cause potential stress and fear. Happy and healthy relationships with our dogs don’t involve being the cause for negative emotions!

Instead, utilize positive reinforcement to reward your dog for wanted behavior. Not only will they learn what to do, they’ll learn that good things (AKA yummy treats) happen when YOU’RE around.

3. CONFUSING YOUR DOG

keep your dog on a routine so you do not confuse them

Isn’t it so frustrating to have to work closely with someone who is unclear, says one thing and means something else, or keeps referring to your project by different names without clarifying?

You probably wouldn’t want to work with them again right?

Well, your dog may be feeling the same thing if you are making one of these key mistakes:

  • Calling a behavior by different names (ex: down vs. lie down)
  • Having an inconsistent routine 
  • Picking and choosing when to enforce household rules
  • Having different family members hold different roles and rules

Consistency is SO important for our dogs and can make a big impact on the entire family dynamic.

4. PUSHING YOUR DOG PAST THEIR THRESHOLDS

If your dog is reactive or fearful of something, you may utilize desensitization and counterconditioning to help them overcome it.

But if you consistently push your dog past their thresholds and cause them to feel uncomfortable, they could form a negative association with their interactions with you.

Instead, take a gradual approach to threshold training to slowly expose your dog to their trigger over time, causing them the least amount of stress possible.

5. IGNORING YOUR DOG'S BODY LANGUAGE

watch your dogs body language

Dogs tell us almost everything we need to know through their postures, faces, and tails. If you ignore their individual body language cues, you could be missing signs of stress until it’s too late. If that happens, your dog may not fully trust your ability to advocate for them which can potentially impact their trust.

It’s important to learn dog body language so you can properly interpret what your dog is trying to tell you – and make changes to the environment to keep them happy and comfortable.

6. BEING IMPATIENT WHEN YOUR DOG IS LEARNING SOMETHING

Even in ideal conditions, learning takes time. Now add in distractions, new environments, busy schedules, etc. – learning something new can be really challenging for your dog!

If you move too quickly through the steps of training or get frustrated that your dog isn’t picking it up as quickly as you’d like, your dog will soon share that frustration.

On the other hand, if you are patient and positive with your dog during training, they will get the repetitions they need to grasp the behavior and the confidence they need to better engage with their training. 

Dogs feed off our energy and look to us for guidance through many challenges, especially when learning something brand new.

7. NOT MAKING THE MOST OF THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO YOU

find training resources online and in person to help improve your relationship with dog

There are so many great resources that exist out there for new and seasoned dog families. Not to toot our own horns, but we’d consider ourselves one of them!

If you don’t take advantage of the plethora of information, tips, and resources out there, you could be missing out on opportunities to strengthen your relationship with your dog.

Just be sure that whatever resources you find are fact-based and either created or reviewed by veterinarians, certified dog trainers, or dog behavior specialists. Unfortunately, there are a lot of not-so-great resources out there too.

8. NOT ASKING FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT

You may think that because you’re your pup’s human, you know what’s best for them and can do it all yourself. While you likely do know what’s best for them, it’s okay if what’s best is getting help from an expert!

Your dog needing to see a trainer to improve their skills and behaviors is the same as taking them to the vet to improve their health – it’s nothing to be hesitant or embarrassed about.

You can also get help from online resources like the Pupford Academy that are led by professionals, but allow you to implement programs yourself at your own pace.

9. TRYING TO CONTROL EVERYTHING

happy dog with pup parent

We can have the best of intentions, have the right tools on hand, and follow the proper steps – and sometimes things don’t go according to plan anyway.

And guess what? That’s okay! If we try to control every aspect of our dog’s life, it can be overwhelming for us and frustrating for them.

Once you let go and switch your mindset to one of just trying your best and loving your dog unconditionally, you’ll be able to enjoy more moments together – even the ones that are nothing at all like you planned.

10. DOING SOMETHING JUST BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE IS

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

This saying is true when it comes to joy in your relationship with your dog, too! Rather than caring what everyone else thinks about how you raise your pup, or doing something just because everyone else is, we want you to focus on one thing:

Train the dog in front of you.

What this means is accepting your dog for who they are and meeting them where they’re at – they will learn to do the same to you!

What else have you stopped doing to have a better relationship with your dog? And just as importantly, what have you started doing? We want to hear all about how you formed, improved, and maintained your relationship with your pup – our comments section is open!

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