Dog Training: The importance of trust and relationship
Building a foundation to train on with your dog…
This is picture of me and Buster. Buster is a rescue dog that I have recently started doing some obedience work with. Let’s just say he has been bounced around a bit in his life. He is super smart, affectionate and has tons of energy! Buster needs some polishing touches on his manners and he needs a little help overcoming anxiety around unfamilar dogs.
For my first session working with Buster I was really focused on getting right to work and putting in action the training plan I had made out for him. Buster was not living in my home so I had to pick him up and take him to my house to train. We had no experience together other than my initial evaluation of him. Buster is a very friendly and affectionate dog so it seemed plausible to start right in and get to work. I took for granted that his friendliness meant he trusted me enough to work with me. It didn’t go very well that first first training session…in fact it went quite poorly. I (and probably he as well) felt totally overwhelmed by the end of our time together. It dawned on me after our first session that in my eagerness to help this dog I had skipped the most important part of getting Buster and I working well together as a team…building a relationship with him and earning his trust.
I revamped my training plan to start our session with play and affection. Our second session was a totally different experience…he took to his training like a rockstar and we had a blast together. We alternated between training and play and we even took a break to take a few selfies together. At one point in our second session I sat on the floor and Buster curled up in my lap with his head buried in mid-section. We sat there for a good ten minutes….I could feel the tension release from his little body. He was a different dog to work with after that. The more time I spend playing with Buster and giving him the affection he craves…the harder he works for me. Look at those ears…aren’t they amazing!!!!
Rescue dogs never cease to amaze me. Their willingness to learn (at any age) and openness to relationships with humans (despite have been short shifted by a few humans) always touches my heart. If only humans were so this patient and forgiving with each other.
I believe that pet rescue is serious business….the number of healthy pets dying in shelters every day in our country is a very dark spiritual blemish on our society. I also abhor the notion that shelter pets are “damaged” or “unstable”…quite the contrary…they are survivors both physically and spiritually…would we humans have such good attitudes if we were homeless…no less dumped by our own families? I am always amazed at their uncanny ability to live in the moment and live with such great attitudes…to assume the best about their humans.