Don't make these three mistakes with your dog if you want to build a strong bond, reveals expert

Mature woman hugging her two dogs with mountain in the background
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the Instagram post cited below.

If you're the proud pet parent of a canine companion, then building a strong and healthy relationship with your fur friend is no doubt at the top of your list of priorities. 

And while learning how to play with a dog and dishing out a long lasting dog chew or two can certainly help with that, it turns out that a lot of relationship building comes down to learning to listen and understand your pup.

Dog trainer and behavior coach Mattison Skoog has shared a post to Instagram in which she bravely reveals three mistakes she made in the early days of having her dog that really damaged their relationship.

Skoog says that over time as she's grown as a trainer and as a person she's learned how important it is to not only try to avoid these mistakes if you can, but to find ways to repair any damage done so that your bond can heal.

Read on as we share more of Skoog's experience and her tips on how you can rebuild your relationship with your dog.

Skoog says that there were three big mistakes that she made in the early days of having her dog that really damaged their relationship: 

  1. Expecting way too much too soon
  2. Focusing more on being heard than on listening
  3. Choosing a trainer who used shock collars as part of their training method 

Thankfully, Skoog says that she and her dog were able to heal from these experiences and build a stronger and deeper bond in the process.

So, how did she repair things with her canine companion?

"Time, and understanding, and a far more compassionate approach," she explains.

"I started to listen to my dog and understand his needs. I saw the damage I had done and swore I wouldn’t put my dog, or any dog, in that position again."

Most importantly, Skoog says that her mistakes made her realize how important it is that she lets her pup set the pace of everything they do together.

"It really doesn’t matter how badly I want him to do something, unless we are going at a pace that is set by his comfort level and emotional threshold, it’s unlikely that he’s going to learn anything worth learning."

No matter what has happened between you and your pup in the past or what mistakes you feel you've made, Skoog says repair is always possible.

"If you’ve damaged your relationship with your dog, there’s space for you to repair that relationship, but it starts with learning to hear what your dog has been trying to say to you all this time."

Skoog also recommends that you partner with someone who will help you bridge the  gap of understanding between yourself and your dog. 

For help in finding a suitably qualified professional who uses positive training methods, be sure to check out our guide to how to spot dog trainer red flags

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Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.