Baby-Step Goal #5: Learn from my Dog

It’s rather amazing how much we can learn from our four-legged friends. Mine is teaching me quite a lot on a regular basis. For starters, I never properly trained him. Read that again: I never properly trained him. Meaning it is entirely my fault. So? At 8 1/2 years old, we’re going back to the drawing board.

Sure, the little bug can sit, stay, beg and roll over on command, but most of them are extremely temporary. He’s also sorta potty-mat trained. Meaning that in my own home, he knows where the safe spot is to go to the bathroom if we can’t get outside.

In my pursuit of happiness, I realized that I neglected to see just how much tension I had from daily routines with my dog, and more importantly, that it wasn’t his fault. I wouldn’t get mad and yell at him, but I would hang my shoulders in defeat and consistently ask “Why? Why are you doing this?” when he had accidents, or acted out in a way I found displeasing, instead of asking myself the all too important question: “Why haven’t you helped him more to understand why it’s better to not do ________ behaviour?”

One book that I found that has given me amazing progress, The Other End of the Leash, offers great insight on clueing in to your dog’s actions and how s/he reacts to you.  It has really helped me open up in a new way to understanding.

Another great website (conveniently a WordPress Blog) is Zero Bites Dog Training – which is far more informative (IMO) than your traditional quick-hit dog training website.

Also of note, and rather brilliantly, my sage uncle (a psychologist, mind you) who happens to be amazing with dog training, pointed out to me that if you listen, truly listen to what your dog is telling you, you will start to learn things about yourself and in turn, learn more about communicating with humans. You know what? He’s right.

If you have difficulty communicating with your dog, or just want a better relationship with your furry friend, I advise you to seek that out. I’ve been to dog-trainers, taken ‘friendly-advice’ and read books.  We are definitely a work in progress, but the results are rewarding.  Slowly my little guy and I are developing a whole new relationship, and it’s great.

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