One easy way to improve your relationship with your dog, according to an expert trainer

Portrait of cute french dog looking at camera lying on bed together with his owner in background
(Image credit: Getty Images)

They say dogs are a man's and woman's best friend, but that doesn't mean that developing a strong bond with your pup is effortless. 

Just like any relationship, the one you share with your canine companion will take time to build — but there is one thing you can do to achieve rock-solid relationship status that little bit sooner. 

While learning how to stop a dog from jumping up or trying to avoid the most common loose leash walking mistakes are well worth your time and energy, certified trainer Carolyn, who is also the founder of Good Dog Training, says there's something that trumps all of that when it comes to relationship-building.

What is it we hear you ask? Well, it all comes down to having your dog's back.

"My dogs know I've got their back," says Carolyn. Because of that, my dogs turn to me for support and guidance. If they’re stressed and unsure, they check in with me and I’ll help. This helps prevent unwanted behavior and boosts confidence."

Having your dog's back is always crucial, but especially if you're looking for tips on how to calm a reactive dog where feelings of trust and safety are particularly important. 

Wondering which situations call for advocating for your dog? Read on to find out Carolyn's thoughts...

1. Do they dislike strangers or kids? "Keep them away from your dog," says Carolyn. "Tell them no, they can't pet your dog. Move away if they approach."

2. Do they dislike other dogs? "Don't force dog-dog interactions. Avoid other dogs and don't allow dogs to approach. Leave if you see an off-leash dog."

3. Is playtime a problem? "If things get tense during dog play, intervene and give your dog a break," Carolyn advises.

4. Are you uncomfortable about how your dog is being treated? "If you don't like how a vet, trainer, groomer, or daycare staff member is treating your dog, speak up and/or get your dog out of that environment."

5. Has your dog found themselves in a tough situation? "Offer support and guidance and help remove them from that situation."

6. Is your dog feeling scared? Carolyn says it's important to provide comfort and support if you sense your dog is feeling fearful or upset.

"Letting your dog know that you're there to offer support will help boost their confidence," explains Carolyn. "They can't always speak for themselves, so speak up for them."

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.