Vet Blog

Building the Bond: Tips to Increase the Relationship with Your Dog

December 06, 2018

Please note that Bees Ferry Veterinary Hospital is offering a free class to help you strengthen the relationship with your dog. Details are below.

Many dogs that are adopted from shelters or found as strays exhibit behaviors that make people believe they have been "abused" in the past…

  • "He's terrified of men."
  • "She cowers when I raise my voice."
  • "He won't go near the broom."

These are all interpreted as a reaction to some malicious process from their past - what we generally refer to as abuse. And certainly, this may occasionally be the truth.

But far more often is the everyday damage that we ALL inflict on our pets - unintentionally, unthinking, and most often with the best of intentions that ultimately lead to a dog that is fearful, reactive, destructive, and, at worst, aggressive. These difficult dogs are then turned into shelters, or chained in the yard, or dumped - making the damage even worse.

So, What Are the Things that We Do to Dogs to Bring Out the Worst in Them?

  • We don't spend enough time with them. We expect bright, energetic young dogs or puppies to spend hours a day alone. Having a big backyard does not constitute exercise. And a 30-minute walk once a day is just a warm-up for an energetic border collie.
  • We rely on quick fixes. Any quick internet search will reveal a plethora of devices to help "fix" your dog's issues. Anti-bark collars (both shock and scented), pronged collars, choke collars, invisible fences - all of these things rely on an unpleasant stimulus to produce the desired result. Pain causes fear. Fear leads to anxiety. Anxiety leads to poor behavior. Poor behavior weakens the bond between owner and pet and greatly increases the chance of owner surrender.

  • We are busy, anxious, and stressed ourselves. Dogs and cats are intuitive creatures. Our stress leeches out of us, and they sense it.

  • We don't maintain consistent routines.

  • We expect instant results.

  • We misinterpret or ignore dogs' body language.

Strengthen the Bond with Your Dog

At Bees Ferry Veterinary Hospital, we will give you the necessary tools to help strengthen the bond with your pet, teach you how to read her body language and help with training. Here are some great ways to strengthen the bond with your dog…

  • We strongly encourage all pet owners, but especially those who have recently adopted a new dog, to come to our upcoming free "Building the Bond" class. Here we will go over body language interpretation and give some basic insight into each individual dog's needs.
  • A tired dog is a happy dog. We work closely with Chucktown Charley's - a local daycare/training facility. Scheduling your pup there a day or two a week will help channel some of that energy.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise. For most breeds, this does not mean a walk. Walks are good. Runs are better. Agility courses are great. Low Country Dog Agility Club will be happy to work with you and your pet. If you work long hours, hiring a dog walker to come in mid-day for an exercise/bathroom session is essential.
  • Avoid dog parks like the plague. The only thing your dog will learn here is bad manners or fear… or both.
  • The beach is a great place to exercise, run, throw the ball, teach Frisbee, etc.
  • Clicker training is the easiest way to train through positive reinforcement. We will discuss this more thoroughly in class, but basically, the pet is reinforced with a "click" whenever he does something right. The click is immediately followed by a high incentive food reward. For example, "get your duck" and then when his nose touches the duck hit the "click" followed quickly by food. Most dogs learn this very quickly, and as they become comfortable with the clicker and positive associations, we can quickly expand that to "unlearning" negative behaviors - such as leash reactivity.
  • Mental stimulation is essential. Dogs left home alone get bored quickly. And bored dogs can definitely find (mostly inappropriate) ways to entertain themselves. A quick Amazon search will bring up a plethora of puzzles of various difficulty levels for your dog (and cat!) that will make them work for a treat. These can keep them occupied for quite some time.

Recommended Supplies

  • DAP collar or diffuser (anti-stress)
  • Crate
  • No-pull harness such as Gentle Leader
  • Clicker
  • Kong toys
  • Dog walker (human!)
  • Mental stimulation toys such as DogFood Puzzle Snuffle Mat and the Outward Hound Dog Puzzle
  • Small, highly desirable treats

Join Us for a Free "Building the Bond" Session

As mentioned above, we are holding a free "Building the Bond" class. Dr. Lanford is passionate about speaking for those who have no voice. Please join us and learn techniques to help build a bond with your dog that will last a lifetime! This session is to help understand the basics of a dog's body language.

  • Learn things that we do to dogs that bring out the worst in them.
  • Learn recommended supplies to help keep them busy/entertained.
  • Listen to Dr. Lanford's prior experiences with dog behavior.

Contact us for further information and hold your spot at our next session!

Don’t have time to bring your fur baby in for a visit? Ask us about our drop-off services.

Let your pet join our team for the day for extra cuddles and love and pick them up at your convenience!

Ready to book? Book your drop-off appointment now!