Can You Talk to Your Dog?05 Dec

Can You Talk to Your Dog?

Dogs need a balanced approach to emotional support, using two concepts. They need to feel they understand how to talk with us, and healthy relationship boundaries. They need to feel heard. They need to be validated. And they need to reciprocate, through listening to us, and respecting our boundaries and instructions. The best relationships take effort from both parties. If one party is doing all the work, they are being used, and rarely (if ever) results in respect or trust.

Have you ever poured your heart out to someone that you knew wasn’t really listening? How did that make you feel? Did you feel secure in your relationship, or did you feel violated, and untrusting? Have you ever been ordered around by someone who treated you like you were in servitude? Would you consider that style good leadership? How about the relationship where you feel smothered? Every whim and ask met with excess? Is that healthy?

Since dogs don’t speak our language, we have to teach them. Sure, most dogs can learn when we are happy, sad, frustrated, internal or excited. But the deeper language, communicating what we need from them must be taught. Conversely, we must make an effort to learn their language. What does it mean when my dog flattens his ears when I pet him? What does it mean when the hair on their back stands up? Can we go deeper? Ear flicks, nose twitches, shifted eyes, shifted posture…. All of that is language, and deserves to be investigated on a deeper level so that your connection to your dog, and your relationship is stronger.

Attunement is an essential part of any strong relationship. Each party needs to feel seen, feel heard, and understood. The way we can best help our dogs feel ‘gotten’ is to provide a response to their emotional cues. Respond to their body language with a confirmation of existence, instead of simply ignored and moving on. 

Barking and lunging, being grouchy or aloof with other dogs or people, outright aggression, fear, separation anxiety, and other behavioral woes will not be solved by performing specific actions for the human based on a series of commands and obedience behaviors. And there is no ‘training’ that can teach them to just, ‘get over it.’ While obedience training IS a critical endeavor, it is just the start. If you’re struggling with your dog’s behavior, the first step is to teach them a deeper understanding of our language, through that training. But you will not be successful if you just stop there. The next step is to make a greater effort to listen to your dog, and respond appropriately, and that’s where you’ll find authentic solutions.

Our training programs are designed to give your dog advanced obedience skills, sure. But we also want to make sure you understand your dog in a more meaningful way, so that the training makes sense and you “flow” together out in the world. Whether it’s a board and train program, day training, puppy training, or in-home dog training in Denver, we’ll make sure that both pieces of the puzzle meet.