Do you have a dog who just won’t listen to you?
Maybe your dog barks in the yard, pulls on the leash, or lunges towards everything (and everyone) they see. The bottom line is that whenever you need your dog to do something, they don’t. It’s frustrating when your dog won’t listen to you but…have you considered why that might be?
Somewhere within all of the experiences and activities that you share with your dog could be the answer as to why your dog won’t listen. Your job is to identify which activities and experiences could cause your dog to become over-aroused and/or reduce the trust and connection between you both.
You need to switch focus away from those experiences and concentrate on things that effectively build trust, confidence, and understanding between you and your dog.
If you’re still a little confused, don’t worry, I’m going to explain all of this in more detail and help you to understand the concept of what really matters when you’re trying to build a loving partnership lifestyle with your dog. So, let’s get into it!
You and your dog are more alike than you think!
Like us, dogs are socially intelligent animals. Our social intelligence is what enables us to learn and understand how to react within our social and family groups. However, like children, dogs need some guidance. We have to teach them how to act within the family so that they can become a valued member of the group.
If you’re a dog mom and you want to create a life with your dog where you are both bonded, it minimizes the need for regular training. This is because the lifestyle that we live with our dogs takes social intelligence into account.
Children and dogs learn how to engage with family members in a very similar way. They learn how to communicate in a way that the other family members can understand. Eventually, children go on to learn a vocal language whereas dogs learn to communicate with others using their behavior. Still, there are many similarities between dogs and humans and how we learn social boundaries and how to engage in socially accepted ways.
Dogs learn by example
Dogs look to their owners and their family members to learn how to behave. So, we need to learn to become conscious role models for our dogs.
Sometimes, we can overthink this and make things more complicated than they have to be. This can lead to stress, frustration, and overwhelm. I want to help you to take the mystery out of training your dog. You can engage and live with your dog in a way that is natural and leads to sharing a calm, happy, safe, and peaceful life.
We can often become so transfixed on the idea that training our dogs is a difficult (almost impossible) task. On the side of the story, some might say that their dog doesn’t need any training and everything is destined to go according to plan. Both of these mindsets have issues. If you want to develop a trusting and loving partnership with your dog, you must find the right balance.
I believe that the key to finding a balance between training and living freely with our dogs is through role modeling. In the same way that young children copy how their parents speak and so on, dogs mirror our behaviors too.
A part of being a good leader for our dogs is being a good role model. But we also need to make sure that our needs (and the needs of other family members and/or pets) and the needs of our dog are all taken into consideration. This helps to set important boundaries.
Reset your relationship
Whether you have a cheeky puppy who wants to nip and bite everything and everyone in plain sight or you have an older dog who pulls on the leash, you need to set boundaries. This might mean that you have to reset your relationship with your dog to some extent.
If you’re not starting fresh with a new puppy or a new dog, you and your dog probably have a lot of history… and some of it might not be all that pleasant. There may have been times in the past (or 10 minutes ago) when your dog acted out and it was difficult. When this happens, it can trigger an emotional response in us because it’s so difficult.
When I talk to members of my Brilliant Partners Academy, I teach them the importance of taking responsibility for our dogs. When something goes wrong and your dog acts in a way that makes you feel upset or frustrated, it’s easy to put blame on something else. Maybe a loose dog approached your dog and invaded their personal space, causing them to react. It’s tempting to blame that other dog or the dog owner for letting their dog come so close.
However, if you learn to become aware of how you respond to situations like this and remember that your dog is looking to you for guidance, you will be better equipped to deal with a stressful or frustrating situation when they occur. It’s easy to let your emotions lead the way but if you’re ready to take responsibility, you’ll find it much easier to build a trusting partnership with your dog.
By taking responsibility, you can start to teach your dog new lessons and become the responsible role model that your dog needs you to be.
You need to take baby steps
Baby steps are key. And, believe it or not, you need to take baby steps way more than your dog!
When it comes to our dogs, we tend to focus on training them rather than focusing on building a lifestyle with our dogs. In many cases, I believe that the lifestyle piece is missing, which can lead to problems with our dogs.
To build a loving partnership with your dog, you need a stable foundation. Building that foundation takes time… it takes baby steps.
As humans, we prefer to live in our ‘comfort zones.’ This is where we feel safe and everything is familiar. But, if you have a dog that is misbehaving in some way, your comfort zone may be everything but comfortable.
Let’s say that you have a dog who keeps pulling on the lead and lunges and barks whenever they see another dog. It’s stressful for you because you’re holding onto the lead for dear life, hoping and praying that your dog won’t overpower you and escape. And, it’s stressful for your dog, who wants to pull, lunge, and bark at the other dog but you’re trying to stop them (obviously).
When you’re faced with a situation like that, it’s natural to want to fix it. So, you set your sights on a better life with your dog. A life where you and your dog walk side by side and they don’t feel the need to try to pull you off your feet whenever they spot another dog. Everything is peaceful and it sounds like a dream come true. So, this becomes your end goal.
You have a long way to go to get there, though, so when you come across something like the Brilliant Partners Academy, you’re excited to make changes and improve your life with your dog. However, instead of taking baby steps towards your goal, you take a giant leap. Then, when things don’t go to plan (because you’ve tried to go too far too soon), you panic and retreat!
The problem is that when you step too far outside your comfort zone before you’re ready, any hiccup or problem you and your dog face is magnified. Naturally, you want to return to what’s familiar to you, even if your comfort zone is uncomfortable.
So, what’s the solution?
Well, the solution is to take baby steps! We don’t run before we can walk, right? Instead, you need to take little baby steps one at a time. This will help you to not venture too far from your comfort zone too quickly. Slowly, you’ll begin to expand your confidence as you and your dog gradually become loving and trusting partners.
If you make a mistake, you can take a step back towards your comfort zone. You don’t have to venture too far to progress and you don’t have to go all the way back to the beginning if things don’t go as planned.
Taking baby steps towards your goal is the best way to build a loving partnership lifestyle with your dog so that you can be the partner your dog needs!
If you’d like to work with me and learn how to create a partnership lifestyle for you and your dog, you can request an invitation to join us in the Brilliant Partners Academy when the doors open for the next enrolment!
You can listen to everything I talked about in this blog post over on my podcast – Enlightened By Dogs. It’s episode 114, which you can listen to here.