It’s All in the Bond

OH Molly! She’s one of those dogs who everyone falls in love with the moment they meet her. She’s a Portugese Water Dog with the kindest eyes and the sweetest soul. She oozes with happiness and love, putting a smile on any stranger’s face.

Although Molly spends most of her time in Fernie, she also hits the open sea on her dad’s sailboat. Her favourite sport is paddle boarding, too. Talk about a water dog! As a professional cuddler, pleaser and avid traveller, she’s living the life she deserves.

For anyone who has had an extra special dog in their lives, the type who understands you without asking, who shines bright without trying, each would agree it is one of the most rewarding connections. Molly is such that she’s able to share that with multiple people. What makes these connections standout is that deep bond that forms effortlessly. It’s when a dog’s actions go beyond obeying to meet instinctual needs like food and shelter.

There are endless stories that showcase the compelling power of the human-canine bond, from dogs pulling their family out of a burning home to military dogs making the ultimate sacrifice. Even basic actions like a Labrador fetching a bird in exchange for its owner’s affection or the famous story of Hachiko who waited at the train station for his owner to return every single day for a decade without success.

Bonds can develop naturally, but they can also be enriched to grow stronger, which means they can be worked on for those dogs who haven’t yet quite reached their full potential. Too often we hear people say they don’t believe their dog would ever be able to accomplish such greatness, but the reality is that the innate desire to work with humans has been hard-wired into our canine friends and it’s up to us to let it thrive.

The foundation of a solid bond is built on trust, understanding and respect. There is no limit to how deep these can build up to be. Strengthening them will improve any dog’s behaviour and it is more predictable to achieve than one might think.

Failing to provide boundaries, routine, dependability and training will inevitably weaken your connection. Dogs look for guidance from us and the opposite is true in thinking that they will be unhappy with proper structure. In fact, a lack of parameters causes uncertainty and anxiety. Teach your dog what you see fit as being both appropriate and inappropriate within your own boundaries and they will learn to respect them because they instinctively want to.

Build trust by being a positive figure to your dog. Avoid situations where you know your dog is listening to you because they are afraid of the potential consequences. This can be subtle and often unintentional, like using a harsh tone can cause your dog to obey because they are fearful of the repercussions in you being impatient. Instead, notice the difference between your dog listening to you out of pleasure and they will learn to focus more on you overall. Remember that in each situation, your dog will never be able to trust you if you don’t trust them.

Create opportunities that allow for you and your dog to rely on each other and learn together, like trying a trick or sport that is new to both of you, or visiting unfamiliar places. The key to a strong bond is patience, it’s impossible to achieve good results without it. Allow your dog to reach their full potential, it’s the greatest gift you can give them in return for their undeniable loyalty.