Improving Your Relationship With Your Dog

How Is Your Relationship With Your Dog?

How can you tell if your relationship with your dog is strong or weak? Many of us like to think our dogs trust us and are bonded with us, but how do you really know? Here’s a look at what a strong relationship, and weak relationship, look like with your dog.

Signs that Your Bond is Weak

Even though you may be a caring, considerate person, your dog might still not feel a close bond with you.

  • Signs of a weak bond include:
  • Emotional indifference to you or others in the family A failure to respond to commands, especially the recall command
  • A lack of desire to play
  • A distaste for being handled
  • Regular attempts to run off
  • Poor focus and eye contact
  • Belligerence or even outright aggression toward you
  • Depression or lethargic behaviour

Note that a recently rescued dog could show some or all of these symptoms as she might still be grieving for her past owner or may simply be depressed over the unpredictability of her life to date.

Give her time.

Signs of a Strong Bond

There’s no mistaking a dog who feels a real emotional connection with you.

There’s a real light in her eyes; she smiles, wags, rubs into you, and makes great eye contact.

When you come home, she brightens up, becomes animated, and may even vocalize her joy.

Other signs of a strong bond include:

  • Keeping tabs on your location when she is off leash
  • Checking in to see where you’re at frequently
  • Performing obedience happily without hesitation
  • Making a great effort to find you when you play hide-and-seek
  • A desire to be near you
  • Matching her pace to yours when walking

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Build Your Relationship With Your Dog By Playing!

Looking to improve your relationship with your dog? One of the best ways to build a trusting and long-lasting relationship with your pet is to play with her! Dogs are active by nature and are often friendly, outgoing, and energetic. So get on the floor and roll around, go play catch outside, run around the back yard — just have fun and play!


To build a successful relationship we need to use what our dog has to offer to us.

We don’t think or rationalize the same way so it will be up to us as a handler/dog owner to build and lead this relationship-building experience.

Moving and Playing

Our dogs are always moving, so the first step will be to …keep moving. I will repeat this over and over again. Dogs never stop, unless they are eating, resting or sleeping.

What we call a game, is simply our interpretation of a dog’s performance that to us humans, looks like a childish game.

In fact, this is a social interaction in which dogs develop everything, from using prey drive, pack boundaries, limitations, learning capabilities, etc.

We can successfully use some parts of this “game” to our benefit, especially while building a relationship.

Younger dogs are easier to impress and if you start from the beginning you have a great chance for success. For example; even using something like playing tug or a game of retrieve, can be highly motivational for a dog.

Now you can combine two powerful tools, the first one is a motivational game, the second one, is that a dog will never relax and play if a situation is too stressful or intimidating in any way so by playing with him, you are assuring him that the situation is safe.

If you are playing with your dog in the beginning in a situation with low environmental stress, he will accept the fact that you are playing therefore there is no reason to worry.

Gradually, you can go into a highly distractive environment or environments, in which your dog may be shy or scared, and perform the same action of play. It is a boost for your dog’s confidence, and your dog is actively participating with you.

TIP: Keep in mind that if the dog is overwhelmed with the situation (environment), don’t force the play sessions. If this happens a few times in a row, your dog may connect playing with stress, and from that point, he may start to avoid playing with you.

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How is your relationship with your dog? How did you build and improve your relationship with your four-legged friend?

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