Some of my Twitter and F/B followers have seen a few conversations about #dogbonding. What is #dogbonding? What does it mean?
A lot of the authors and dog trainers I have interviewed on the “My Doggie Says…” show share a view that I have about dog ownership and dog training. Specifically, that the real joy of “owning” a dog is in building a very close, warm, communicative, and interactive relationship with it. I put “owning” in parentheses, because the whole idea of “owning” a dog is actually the antithesis of #dogbonding. The ideal dog-human relationship is not one of “ownership.” It’s one of “intimate relationship.”
#dogbonding is very different from some traditional dog training, in which the emphasis is on “obedience.” Again, there’s more to being in a great relationship with a dog than compelling it to obey your commands. This is where #dogbonding and some of the popular TV dog trainers depart.
One premise of many of the popularized TV dog trainers is that we need to be in an “alpha” relationship with our “best friend.” Many studies have shown that this is not true, and many leading edge dog trainers are putting more emphasis on “positive training” and on creating a positive relationship with your pet.
An essential ingredient of any relationship is “communication.” The point of the book, “My Doggie Says… Messages from Jamie,” is that it is possible to develop your skills at “interpreting” your pet’s behavioral messages. Does your dog ever do something you don’t quite understand? I call these “scratch-your-head” moments. You scratch your head and try to figure out, “Why did my dog do that? What is it trying to tell me?” Through a collection of eighty-five color photographs, “My Doggie Says…” gives examples of behaviors, what they meant in the case of Jamie, and how I was able — with some detective work — to “decode” Jamie’s messages.
Join us on Twitter at @mydoggiesays and contribute to the #dogbonding conversation. What does it mean to you?