Las Vegas Pet Scene Magazine - January/February

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Ways to

Strengthen your

Bond

with your dog By Judith Guthrie

We all want to have that magical bond with our dog. You know the one. The one Lassie had with Timmy, Rin Tin Tin and his master, Old Yeller and his boy, Scooby and Shaggy, Sandy and Annie, even Pluto & Mickey Mouse. Dogs are called man’s best friend for a reason. They are our companions & partners. They cheer us up when we are down. They snuggle with us when we are tired. They play with us when we are energetic. They are a part of our lives in so many ways. But how do WE get this bond?

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here are many ways to have a strong bond with your canine companion. Here is a list of ways to create a strong bond; many of which are already part of your everyday life!

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SPEND TIME WITH YOUR DOG. You need to spend a portion of your daily life with your dog. Just be together. Curl up with a book, watch a movie, and work on the computer with your dog curled up beside you. I have several dogs in my pack and we each relate to one another differently, however, we all have a strong bond. Everyone has a different view on furniture and pets. I have a dog-allowed couch. I sit on it with one dog curled at my legs and the other two are on dog beds at my side. Even though I am focused on something else, I acknowledge them regularly. Whether it is with a soft pet, a look, a smile, or just touching each other, we are aware of one another. This is a very important aspect of developing the critical bond everyone desires. CONSISTENT RULES - Consistency is very important. It does not matter what your rules are, but they need to be consistent. Many people say you need to have rules that establish dominance like always going through the door first or eating first. These, in themselves, are not really important for dominance, but consistency is. Some of my personal rules include sitting for the leash, waiting at doors until I say they can go through, and waiting to take food until I give the OK. TRAINING AND MANNERS - You do not have to teach your dog to be the next obedience champion. Training can be for show but it can also be teaching them the basic skills to live in a polite and peaceful way. Your training level and routine, and it is a routine, is something you need to stick with. Some sort of basic practice routine, whether it is five minutes every other day or two hours every day, is important. EXERCISE – Just like with people, dogs need regular exercise for their health and peace of mind. Otherwise it does not matter how 6

Las Vegas Pet Scene Magazine • January/February 2015

well behaved they are. The rule of thumb is a tired dog is a happy dog. Exercise is not just having a yard. They need to have engaging exercise on a regular basis. This can be play time with other doggy friends, walks around the block, hiking, playing ball/Frisbee or, a dog sport like agility, or another activity that involves physical exertion. When I am unable to exercise my dogs I have trained my dogs to run on the treadmill. They love it and it gives them a chance to stretch and move while I am doing other things. Of course, I keep my eye on them for safety.

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PLAY - You need to play with your dog. Play is a great way to build your relationship and it’s just plain fun!! Think about it, what do you do with your friends, you play. Play needs to be something you both enjoy and can do together. The play activity can be something from the exercise list but the key, however, is doing and enjoying it together.

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GO PLACES TOGETHER - When it is possible, and safe, a great way to keep your relationship growing is to go places together. Whether it is doing the drive through at the bank, driving out to the hiking trails, or a road trip. Dogs love to do things with you. In a pack there is down time when everyone rests together, plays together and daily exercise when everyone travels out to scavenge or hunt. There is consistent structure within the pack and one imposed by the world they live in. Most of all they learn what works and what doesn’t work in their world. You are becoming part of the pack by doing a version of these with your dog. Dogs are man’s best friend but we have to do our part to strengthen that bond. Most important is to think of these activities as fun things to do with your dog, and ENJOY THEM!

Judith Guthrie of Dark Moon Farms & Kennels. Serving Southern Nevada with K9 private & group lessons in K9 Nose Work, Agility, Rally, Basic Manners, Urban Mushing, & Problem Solving as well as Horsemanship Lessons for all ages, English & Western for Competition or Pleasure. Contact us at DarkMoonFarms@gmail.com.