Sandi’s K9 Management

8 Ways to Build a Bond Between You and Your Dog

In working with dogs and their owners, I am always surprised to find out that people don’t know how to build a bond between themselves and their dog.  Sadly, many dogs are turned into shelters simply because their owners didn’t understand how to go about living peacefully with them.  Here is a list of simple and easy ways to establish that never-ending friendship between the two of you:

  1. Spay or neuter.  This really should go without saying, but if you are not in the show-ring with your dog, then do him a favor by taking care of any unnecessary urges he will encounter while intact.  A dog that is fixed lives a longer and healthier life, is less likely to wander away from home, and is all-around a calmer and more relaxed dog. 
  2. Identify.  Microchipping is one of the greatest things you can do for a dog.  If your dog is found, any vet or shelter will be able to use a scanner to get a number that is traced back to you!  About $50, this is so worth the money.  In addition, it is also an excellent idea to keep your phone number and address on a tag on your dog’s collar.  I usually put my cell phone on the number because I figure if the dog is missing, then I am out looking for him and not at home sitting by the telephone!
  3. Communication.  Learning to read your dog helps in establishing an excellent line of communication between the two of you.  Turid Rugaas has done some excellent work with what she refers to as “calming signals”.  I will include a link to her work at the end of this article.  Interpreting your dog’s body language helps you to learn to adjust your own body language in order to effectively “speak” to your dog.
  4. Management.   Proper management is staying one step ahead of your dog.  Setting him up to succeed, and not giving him the chance to practice bad behaviors are what it is all about.   Proper management includes: use of a crate, fenced in yard, properly fitted collar, supervision, etc.
  5. Training Fun.  Did you know that teaching your dog can and should be a fun thing to do?  So many people don’t know how to make training fun!  Keeping it fun keeps the dog working for you and with you, and helps to strengthen that tie between the two of you.  Train with an upbeat attitude, with plenty of praise and rewards.  Mix training with a game of fetch or a tug with his favorite tug toy!
  6. Schedule.  Keeping to a set schedule helps a dog feel secure, knowing when he can expect that next meal or a trip outside.  Although it isn’t possible for any of us to keep the same set schedule 100% of the time, try to keep a set schedule for most days.
  7. Socialize.  Dogs are social creatures.  They are pack animals.  They like to be with their own.  Providing your dog with other canine friends at a dog park, playgroup, or dog daycare is one of the best gifts you can give to him!
  8. Exercise.  Exercise helps to relieve pent up energy and also helps to avoid boredom behaviors such as excessive barking or digging!  Not only will it contribute to his healthy lifestyle, it is a great way for the two of you to spend quality time together.  Not a jogger?  Take a nice fast-paced stroll through the neighborhood, or teach him how to play a great game of Frisbee! 

Hopefully these tips will get you on your way to a lifelong companionship between the two of you!

For more reading about canine communication and Calming Signals, please check out Turid Rugaas’ website at:

 Copyright 2008.  All Rights Reserved.  Sandi Hansen.  Sandi’s K9 Management.


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