If you’re anything like most dog owners, ensuring your canine companion stays happy and healthy is likely high on your priority list. And while rewarding good behavior with the longest lasting dog chews and ensuring they get plenty of exercise are both vital parts of the puzzle, it’s the relationship the two of you share that can really make the difference.
Whether you’re in the process of learning how to calm a reactive dog or trying to figure out how to stop a dog from pulling on a leash, understanding how dog psychology and your relationship with your pup fits into your training journey will help you smash your training goals while strengthening your bond at the same time.
Thankfully, expert dog trainer Andrea Isabell has shared the five things she believes every canine needs from their owner in order to thrive. You can check out her Instagram post below or read on for a summary of what she had to say.
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1. Leadership: “Leadership fundamentally gives a sense of safety and security,” explains Isabell. “Following fair guidance and direction minimizes confusion and builds confidence. This is true for humans and canines. We are all pack animals that have a semblance of hierarchy. If we don’t provide our dog with leadership, it can lead to insecurity, unwanted behaviors, and behavioral issues.”
2. Energy: “One of the most organic and fundamental concepts to understand is how to use energy. Dogs are our mirrors. If what is reflected to them is chaotic, inconsistent, unstable, or always exciting, that is what we’ll get in return. Using calm energy when we interact with our dog will help them feel better. Coregulating with our dogs will help them be balanced.”
3. Fulfillment: “Dogs are instinctual. They have very basic needs; shelter, nourishment, and movement,” Isabell explains. “Each dog’s level of movement will vary from one to the next based on breed, genetics, and temperament. Fulfilling their biological needs will help your dog feel better and be more balanced. From nosework to pulling sports, dock diving to agility, to tug and chase games, there’s something out there that will fulfill your dog and build your relationship as you explore it together.”
4. Structure: “Living without rules leads to chaos in any situation. Dogs require structure to understand how to live in our confusing human world. It can take a load of stress and uncertainty off their shoulders. Crate training, scheduled meals, place training, structured walks, and structured play are all areas we can offer our dogs clarity. Clarity can lead to more freedom once the dog understands expectations, but don’t expect them to successfully figure it out on their own.”
5. Communication: “Learn to speak dog!,” Isabell advises. “Dogs communicate with pressure. Combining a conversation of energy, body language and supportive tools to provide directional guidance will bridge the gap in understanding. Using a tool that communicates tactile pressure can get you moving, but without the layers of using our energy and body language, it’s simply a tether.”
For more great canine content, check out our guide to the three most common loose leash walking mistakes and how to fix them.
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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.