How To Build your Relationship with your Dog

How To Build your Relationship with your Dog

Guest Author:  “DZ Dog Mom”

A strong relationship is built on a foundation of mutual trust, respect, and devotion.

Dog’s have different personalities just like humans do. One thing that I think is very important is choosing the right personality that best fits your family when you are looking for a dog.

After our German Shephed passed away, we knew we were ready for a high energy adventure dog to join us on our hiking, camping, lake/river/beach, trail running, you name it! Crazy adventures! We’re young, we’re healthy and the hubby and I both are exercise junkies – a dog with high exercise needs would be perfect for our family. This brought us to find, Dante! Our perfect little boy!


After we found a furever home for our foster then we wanted to get Dante a sibling, but we knew that two Dante’s in the house was more excitement than we wanted. We felt that a nice female would balance out his personality nicely which led us on a several month long hunt where we found Ziva. A New Sister for Dante.

Ziva is very different from Dante, she’s just like a little sister. She looks up to and follows Dante around like he’s her hero. She is very sweet, and unless their is a ball involved her personality is a bit quieter than his. When we first adopted Ziva she would startle at out of places noises, my folding laundry for example – flicking a shirt to get the wrinkles out would send her scurrying tail tucked to her bed, or to hide behind Dante. More on Ziva HERE.

The best advice I can give someone with a nervous or anxious dog is to keep working with them. Don’t give up! Don’t push them too hard yet either. In Ziva’s case she trusted us, as long as she wasn’t panicking or trying to run away we slowly kept exposing her to the things she was wary of. This is essentially threshold training, you bring your dog as close as you can while maintaining a positive experience until their discomfort causes you to back off – but only as far as you must. Slowly over time you build up to being closer to objects, and increasing your time spent around them. All the while praising your dog and rewarding their bravery.

Ziva: Practicing, “Look”. I have treats and a tennis ball hidden on me!

Not many people fully experience a strong relationship with their dog, if you have experienced it you know it is addicting and wonderful! Dog’s are truly amazing creatures, they can teach us so much.

Every time you work with your dog you are either strengthening or weakening that bond, if you hit, kick, scream, use a shock collar or other pain causing device you are damaging your relationship. Rewards, praise, time spent together, and training builds up your relationship with your dog. If you allow your dog to rule the house, no discipline, no training, they drag you on a leash… you are not actually building a relationship their is no mutual respect or teamwork involved, in fact most likely no relationship really exists except in your mind. As far as your dog is concerned you are the bringer of the food, you’ve barely scratched the surface of a relationship.

Dogs are a lot of fun! But you have to be willing to work at it.

How To Build your Relationship with your Dog

1)    Spend Quality Time Together

Just like with another person, spend time together. Get off your phone, put it away. No texting either! Building a relationship means sharing experiences. Just go out and play, or walk, look at the trees together. Watch birds, run around in your backyard, be silly with your dog. Rub their belly, or scratch their favorite spot – you know right where it is… Ziva loves her ears being rubbed. Even grooming your dog can be quality time – take your time, don’t be in a hurry.

2)    Train your dog

A well trained dog is more trustworthy, they can (breed/dog depending) be allowed off-leash because you know they will return when called. Training relaxes you, which relaxes your dog. Training also reduces the frustration you may otherwise experience with your dog for displaying bad behavior. Dante and Ziva displayed such wonderful manners thanks to all our training that they were invited back to our friends’ vacation home! A home where he never allows dogs, EVER. The Advantages of Pawsitive Pet Training.

3)   Be a Clear Communicator

Everyone hates a misunderstanding, keep your words consistent. Hubby and I are consistently checking in with one another regarding what vocab/signals we are using. When you say, “stay” mean it. Practice it, work it in different scenarios. Be consistent with your signals too, in agility I’ve noticed dogs get frustrated if their handler is not clearly signalling what is to be done, and then the handler gets frustrated because the dog isn’t doing what is being asked! I’ve noticed the Australian Shepard’s seem to do it the most – they tend to jump, bark, whine, and mouth at their handlers clothing when frustrated during training sessions in our class.

4)   Care about your Dog’s Health

Tasty food shows you care, but don’t care so much to the point of obesity please! Exercise your pup, a healthy dog will live a longer, happier, healthier life. Pay attention to their body, watch your dog’s feet, check them thoroughly after hikes for ticks or injuries. The more you care for your dog, the more they trust you and the more likely you are to notice and catch the beginning stages of a problem.

5)   Don’t Get Angry at your Dog

Yes, your dog may know that the did something wrong. But maybe in the heat of the moment they were overwhelmed and that rug that they ate represented a mighty dragon they were fighting in a fierce battle over the house! Just kidding..but seriously awesome relationships are not built on a foundation of yelling, screaming, and anger. Never hit your dog, or punish them just because your are mad that is you taking your frustration out on your dog, you are not actually teaching them anything in this case.

6)   Find out What Drives your Dog

Dante loves to tug, we’ve been revisiting his recall training because it was getting sloppy. We were spending so much time training, and working with Ziva that poor Dante was getting playtime but no training himself. He started to ignore us when we called, and he quit checking in (giving frequent looks in our direction) be it on a walk or off-leash. Well this led to no more off-leash time, he could no longer be trusted. It isn’t that your dog is bad though, they need practice. Our bond was clearly slipping. Your dog needs to find you to be the most fun thing around! Practicing re-call with Dante we would take his favorite tug toy, hide it in our jacket, let him sniff about but not get too far. Then yell, “Come!” And whip out his toy! He quickly figured out that sticking nearby was worth it if it meant he could play. Working with him several times a week has really helped his recall. We also hide pieces of hot dogs, and cheese in our pockets. When he comes when called, he is rewarded. When we’re out on a walk, every time he looks at me I reward him for checking in and in just two weeks we’ve noticed a huge difference in his attentiveness.

Ziva, on the other hand, is very ball driven, which has been both fun and challenging figuring out how to incorporate a ball during agility practice.

How To Build your Relationship with your Dog

Remember, while training is important it isn’t everything. Your dog should find you to be fun, they should desire to come back to you because they know you represent positive rewards as opposed to punishment.

How To Build your Relationship with your Dog


Guest Blogger:  DZ Dog Mom

Learn more about DZ Dog Mom, her husband, numerous dogs and cats over at her blog, where she writes about things she is passionate about:

Dogs, dog training, people training, inspiring healthy animal relations, busting myths about bully breeds, and much, much more.

You can also find DZ Dog Mom on Facebook and Twitter.


QUESTION FOR YOU:  How Do YOU Build Your Relationship with YOUR Dog?

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As always, thank you for taking the time to visit my blog!

Jeanne Melanson




18 thoughts on “How To Build your Relationship with your Dog”

    • Yes, it certainly does take time, but it sure is worth it in the end, isn’t it? I love watching an animal go from shy / timid / scared to an eternally grateful best friend. 🙂 Thanks for your visit today!

  1. That’s right, Jennifer. It takes time, patience, and an understanding of your dog. That’s the beauty of ‘training’ too, you and the dog develop a bond like no other. I was thrilled the first time I started realizing this. The relationship with that first dog … well, I’ll never forget it. It’s great that you can decode your coworkers and can imagine it’s probably easier for you since you’re with them all day long. I’m like that with my animals too. I’m home 24/7. Thanks for your nice, lengthy comment! I’ll see you around! 🙂

  2. I wish this blog was available at humane societies. Many people adopt pets who have been abused or have other medical issues and these poor pets are so nervous. It really makes such a difference based on the type of owner they have. This is such sound advice. I remember how consistent training helped my Rott so much. He really came out of his shell when he knew that he did not have to be the Alpha. Also, its interesting to see how “quality time” with your pet can really do miracles for them.

    • I really wish that people would take the time to really research dogs, dog breeds, and know exactly what they want before adopting or purchasing a dog.
      Until that day comes though, we just do our best to educate and encourage people to get help/training. 🙂

  3. Excellent advice! The relationships we have with our pets are so important. A lot of these tips would work for building a relationship with your cat too (with slight modifications of course). Love makes everything better.

    • Thank you for stopping by, Robin, mother of playful kitties. 🙂 It’s true that you could modify these ideas towards your cats too. Any animal, actually. I’m glad you stopped by. I enjoyed your post too, earlier today, about “The Scottish Fold: Cat Breed of the Month.” Beautiful-looking cats. Take care!

  4. Great tips! My favorite relationship-building activity with Ruby is trick-training. I have learned so much about her communication and strengths, and she has learned over 30 tricks!

    • Thirty tricks! That’s impressive. It’s great that you spend so much time with your dogs, and training is so important. Thanks for all that you do, and thank you for visiting my blog today. Peace!

  5. These are some great tips! I think knowing your dog’s personality is so important – some dogs are going to be happiest chilling out on the couch with you, others are in heaven on a long hike or run. Finding something you both love to do makes it a joy for dog and human!

    • You’ve got that right, Eric. Years ago, I would choose an energetic dog. I was a runner. I had a German Shepherd that ran with me for years, until she got too old and tired. She was sick but I didn’t know for a while yet. Turned out to be bone cancer. :/ And now I’m sick and can’t do the things I used to do. I’m happy with a lower energy dog, a cat, and a Bearded Dragon. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope I’ll see you on my blog again! Take care.


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