How to build a balanced relationship with your dog

A dog is man’s best friend, but building truly balanced, proper and healthy relationships with our four-legged friends requires us to adopt very specific behaviour.

The moment we decide to welcome a dog into our home, we need to dedicate time to the relationship. More specifically, it is essential that we create the right blend of attention to its needs, while allowing it the space to be autonomous. Here’s how to get the most from your relationship and avoid any unpleasant behaviour.

Recognize the dog’s need for physical activity.

Physical activity is a primary need of your dog.  It needs to find an outlet for all the pent-up energy in his body in order to be calm and happy. Young dogs, in particular, need to be satisfied with the type of activity, and this does not mean simply running their socks off,  but rather enjoying showing off the talents and skills their breed is known for. Different breeds have been selected to do certain tasks and puppies have a natural tendency to perform certain activities that represent real needs for the dog.

Many owners unfortunately believe that comfort and affection are enough to bring wellness to their four-legged companions, but this is not the case. An inactive life produces a general malaise that can lead to bad habits and behaviour, or a permanent state of boredom that impacts significantly on the dog’s emotional state. It is therefore a good idea to check what specific demands the dog is likely to have, and whether you will be able to meet those demands, before deciding on a certain breed.

Avoid creating a morbid relationship

A balanced relationship with your dog means avoiding creating an environment of disturbed morbid affection that creates anxiety in the animal in the long term.

A dog needs affection but people sometimes exaggerate by smothering their animal with love and leaving it no space to express its autonomy and independence. A dog that is not used to enjoying its own company, tends to become increasingly anxious, to the point that it can no longer bear to be alone even for a moment.

A balanced relationship includes not only affection but also walks, games, activities and moments when the dog can simply sit relaxed in its basket chewing a bone or resting. When we welcome a dog into the house, we need to avoid having it close by us at all times, and gradually accustom it to spending time quietly in its basket while we work around the house or read a book. This will help the dog acquire a calm quiet character, sheltered from unnecessary anxiety and without undue dependence on its owners.

How to set your dog a good example

A dog’s calmness also comes from sensing that the person next to it is safe, trustworthy and reliable. This means, as owner, we must be capable of conveying protection, steadiness and equilibrium. This applies not only to insecure dogs, but also those dogs that tend to behave more competitively, or try to impose themselves on their owners.

Dogs experience social relations as being part of a team, and feeling that the person they relate to is capable of protecting, coordinating, and leading helps it relate to the outside world with peace of mind. Setting a good example for your dog means showing you can deal with problems, move outdoors assertively, act as a kind of coach in terms of setting activities and tasks to perform, manage resources and spaces wisely and consistently, be close at hand when needed but not create dependence, and be able to manage initiatives and give commands.

It is not so difficult to do; the important thing is not to treat your dog as a child but rather recognise its character and natural instinct.

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