When we think of gifting something to our dogs, our natural thoughts go towards the best collars, the fanciest leash, or a big lavish bed. But if you're a pet parent already, you'd know that's all just temporary happiness, what our dogs would truly cherish is something altogether.
Our thoughts, words, and actions when dealing with our dog makes all the difference in the world. Whether it is to discourage an undesirable behavior or teach them to eat their food well. In the end, it all boils down to HOW do we shape this behavior - what is it that we as pet parents can practice all our lives to make sure our dogs train into the best version of themselves!
Simple, All Ears has shortlisted Four Wonderful Gifts that you can give your dog all his life! To help you understand better, we have categorized it into two:
Freedom & Responsibility
When we say Freedom for our dogs, what is the first thing you can think of? No, it does not mean letting our dog loose on the leash on his own, letting him take care of himself on his own, not without teaching him basic commands and recall. The Gift of Freedom means respecting your dog's individuality and understanding that freedom is as important to him as it is to us. But this gift doesn't come alone, it is accompanied by the Gift of Responsibility where your dog is taught what kind of desirable behavior is expected out of him.
Here is an example to help you gain a better perspective. Our dog, Zoey walks off-leash on her routine outings, this gift of freedom comes with trust because I've taught her what she needs to know in order to honor this gift. But I cannot expect her to not misuse this freedom by running away when she sees another dog or a squirrel. Hence I accompany it with the gift of responsibility where we've trained her to LISTEN as any responsible pack member would do to their pack leader for guidance and direction.
How can you implement this with your dog?
Step 1: Establish a bond of love, respect, and trust where you start leaving your dog off-leash/dropped leash for some time during the day to run, explore and simply be himself! Freedom need not always mean just being without a leash, it can also mean freedom to play, to have new experiences, and make memories.
Step 2: Teach your dog to be responsible for his deeds. With great power comes great responsibility. Giving him freedom means you know your dog comes with a cost of responsibility of knowing what is okay eg: smelling car tires and what is not okay eg: eating garbage off the streets. You can train him in being responsible either with a trainer's assistance or first begin with teaching him on a leash outdoors and then let the leash loose. If your dog doesn't listen when even he is leashed, be patient and wait till he learns to be responsible to give him freedom!
Discipline & Affection
At All Ears, we believe discipline and affection go hand in hand. Let's take it one by one. To begin with the Gift of Discipline, we do not mean you pose yourself as a super strict dominant pack leader, not at all! If you only inflict discipline, your dog will learn to fear you, but if you combine it with the Gift of Affection, your dog will learn to respect you and love you back for what you teach him.
In any pet and parent relationship, both these gifts require a healthy balance. If there is too much discipline imposed, your dog may lose his uniqueness to "rules and commands" and if it's all about affection, then the dog who trains you to wants things his way only!
To support this, let's share an example of Mark, a Golden Retriever we were training earlier this year. Mark loves his family as much as they do but also loves to press their buttons. He adores getting attention from his humans and before training, his parents misinterpreted his attention-seeking to affection-seeking. So everytime he would jump on the sofa, tear the cushions, pee on the bed, bark at strangers in excitement - they would shower him with affection to request him to stop doing that, without realizing they were actually reinforcing it. It's only when they started training with All Ears, they understood the importance of discipline to put an end to these problematic behaviors - teaching him healthier ways to receive attention as well as affection from his family.
How can you implement this with your dog?
Step 1: Establish a set of boundaries for your dogs, identify what behaviors are acceptable and what are not. Once you know that, you will be able to discipline him through force-free training methods. Remember to avoid the use of treats in such kind of training as treats should not be the reason he listens to you, regardless of their value! We would want him to listen to you because he loves, respects, and trusts you to know better. Moreover, if you don't teach him what is expected out of him, how do you expect him to be on his best behavior when asked?
Step 2: Shower him with affection when he does exactly what you want him to do! Like peeing at the right spot, playing with his own toys (not your expensive Louboutins!) eating his own food, walking well on the leash, etc. When there is enough affection provided, your dog wouldn't want to pull off new acts to get your attention. He knows what is being rewarded with love and praise and continues to practice that behavior. Channelize your affection in the direction you want to lead your dog to through discipline.
So We're Saying...
Let go of materialistic gifts and instead, consider these 4 Wonderful Gifts for every dog. We assure you, they're going to appreciate it more than anything! Let's nurture a relationship with our dog where we can infuse these qualities within us, in turn seeing the positive effects of it in them!
Like what you read? Double Tap to like this post and Share the Link with a fellow Pet Parent to help all of us become better humans to our dogs!