The relationship you have with your dog will be all important in whether you are successful training. The title of this website is Dog Training Fun. Who is supposed to be having fun? Both of you!
Your relationship with your dog will determine if you are both going to enjoy the training experience. What do I mean by your relationship with your dog? I hope you and your dog will be partners in many things. Having fun playing, going for a walk, a quiet snuggle, building your communication with each other, enjoying whatever sport or task you want the dog to perform. Respect for each other is the foundation of building this relationship.
By respect, I do not mean you need to dominate your dog! Think of relationships in a family. The children hopefully have respect for the parents, as the ones who set some limits to behavior, offer affection and encouragement. The parents hopefully respect the children, as individuals with needs, rights and preferences. This is similar to the relationship between dogs and their humans, with the humans in a parental guiding role, and the dog somewhat in the role of the child.
Some trainers, more in the past than today, have indicated that the dog is trying to “take charge”. If there are no behavior guidelines, or reinforcement for good behavior, the relationship can certainly get out of control. Just as a four-year-old child with no limits can keep the family in an uproar, so can a dog with no routine or limits. But are either of them trying to take charge? No, but if there are no guidelines for behavior, both will do whatever suits them!
A dog should never think he is in trouble. If you try to force your will on the dog with corrections or sharp words, you are not going become a working partner with your dog. First, the dog needs to understand what you want him to do, then it needs to be worth his while to do it. A yummy treat, access to his toy, a smile from you, a pat or happy talk go a long way to making things worthwhile to your dog. And when good behavior becomes worthwhile, your dog will be happy to work with you. This doesn’t happen just by feeding your dog a few treats, but by understanding ways to communicate with your dog and building a history of good behavior paying off for the dog. That is what this website is all about.