Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Ties That Bind

We have four dogs here at our house, which means that I have four different canine relationships.  If you read the blog much, you probably realize that the closest bond that I have is with Bunny.  I think one of the main reasons for that is that she is the only one of our current dogs that I have done formal training with. 

Lilac was older when we got her and we didn't take her through formal training, partly because we just didn't think she'd live long enough to really need it, and we spent time teaching her basic commands at home.  When Blueberry came along, it was at a time when Hawk was having some issues and it was a good time for Mr. Taleteller to begin doing work with her to make her a therapy dog partner.  They did formal obedience training together for a while and Blueberry is actually quite good at it.  Bunny came along just after Treat's death, and she was intended to be my therapy partner, so that meant that I had to do the formal training and work with her.  Now that Morgan has arrived, Mr. Taleteller has devoted his time to working on training with her.  I have to work with her some, too, but I'm not the one who takes her to class and does the practice with her.

That's not to say that I think that doing obedience training is the only way to bond with your dog.  A good Saturday morning sleep in session can  help, too!  Bunny had been here with us for several months before we started going to class and we'd already started doing some things together.  We didn't go to obedience class because we had dreams of a career in obedience, either.  I wanted her to learn to walk well on a leash and to know basic commands so that we could start thinking about getting certified as a therapy dog team and so that our neighbors realized I was walking a dog instead of a kangaroo or landed trout.  I think that taking class got us started on the path to knowing each other well, though.  It made me concentrate and think about what she was doing at that time and she had to learn to pay attention to me. 

Our bond has also deepened over time and our continuing work as a therapy team has strengthened that.  Spending time doing fun things that we enjoy has improved it, too.  Going out hiking has given us a chance to do things together like build trust while still being out away from all the distractions of home and concentrating on being together.

I think Bunny and I would have been close no matter what happened, but I do think that our bond has been enriched by the time we've spent training.  I feel like I'm getting to that point with her where I can really predict what she'll do, and I imagine she has a pretty good idea about what to expect from me.   That's not to say that surprises don't happen, like a rabbit in the bushes, but even when those things pop up, I can react based on how I know she will react.

If I have one of the other dogs along with us, I often see her checking to make sure that I know that she's there with me.  When I happen to be home sick, she's the one who will be curled up beside me.  She's the one doing the dance of joy when I get home from work and she's the one who sits by me on the couch and licks my feet or hands while we watch TV and catch up on blogs. 

One of the reasons I chose to share this is that January has been named National Train Your Dog Month by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.  It really made me reflect on the benefits that training our dogs has given us.  It can make such a big difference in the relationship you have with your dog and it can be anything from taking formal classes to teaching basic manners or even to teaching fun tricks.  The important thing is to have fun with your dog and to get more in tune.  It can be one of the most valuable things you do with your dog.

We're participating in this Saturday's Pet Blog Hop, hosting by Life With Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers and Confessions of the Plume.  If you'd like to participate, please follow the rules and follow your three hosts, add your blog to the Linky and copy and paste the html code into your html editor.  Thanks again to our hosts for putting on the hop!

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  1. Mom says THANKS fur THE BRUCE earworm!!!


  2. A beautiful post about the bond between you and Bunny! Sometimes, it surprises us that our furkids can be more understanding than any human beings and they are the most loyal and faithful ones too.

  3. Lovely post about you and Bunny.

    I was very lucky with Song, as she ddn't need much training at all. She knows all the commands, although sometimes she does choose to ignore the 'here' command when she is having so much fun in my dad's garden:)

  4. Lovely post :) I am like that with Snoopy too, she is my special dog.

  5. National Train Your Dog MONTH? Really? Didn't know that!

    (and just think, mothers only get one DAY!)

  6. You and Bunny look like such a great team. It was lovely to hear more about life in a four-dog household.

    Have a wonderful weekend

    Love and licks Winnie

  7. Now that is something that we need to do... did you manage to find a greyhound-specific class/es, or was it mixed? I know that they very occasionally offer a greyhound only class here, but I've been waiting so long for the basic obedience one to open, that I might want to consider something for all breeds.

  8. What a sweet post. Bunny is one of a kind!

    Your pal, Pip

  9. Very interesting post, and it definitely has me thinking. Although I had exposure to many dogs, Roxie was the first one I owned (aside from childhood pets.) When I first got her, she walked fairly calmly on the leash in front of me, but in a zigzag pattern, which I thought was weird and annoying. I signed her up for basic obedience, and it was a good experience for both of us. I looked for a puppy class when we got Zoe, but couldn't find one, and eventually gave up. Zoe is smart and very treat-motivated. We've taught her a couple of things on our own, but I think it would be a great socialization exercise for her. She doesn't get out much, and seems skiddish when she does, which worries me. Now might be a good time to look for a class again. Thanks for the reminder. BTW, I asked Mike to proofread our blog post last night. He saw where I added the Pip/Bunny button, and raved over Bunny's beauty. She really is a gorgeous Grey!

  10. I am the furst dawg that my mom and dad had formal training fur. I liked my classes butt they were HARD. Especially my Advanced Degree. I went to PetSmart Universary and Stuffie Distributorship fur all my classes. My mom only went to that dumb old Ohio Universary place. I think she learned a LOT more at my Alma Mater. We really bonded there, just like you and your mom did.
    I guess that proves that WE know Better.

  11. I totally agree that training with your dog enriches the bond. There's a whole lot of "reading each other" that comes into play.

    Thanks for a great post!

    Have a rompin’ good day!
    Stumpy and her bean

  12. It's nice to have dat special bond wif your people. :) Happy Saturday Everybodys!

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  13. You are so spot on with your thoughts. Training is a great way to establish that loving bond between a dog and his human. The last time I had Ciara at the vet clinic, one of the vets, not our regular one, was walking through the waiting room as I was talking to Ciara. He looked at her, then at me, and said - she will do anything you ask her, I can so tell that she is totally bonded to you. Great post.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

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  15. Our momma says that learnin' is the best bond she can think of to bond wif your doggy - that an' a lot of unconditional l♥ve on the human's part to remember that puppies chew an' old dogs sometimes pee on the carpet. Momma says that one day she might not be able to chew an' that she might pee on the carpet - really? Do you really think she will?

  16. Enjoyed the post..........especially to learn that January is Train Your Dog month.

    Pickles is enrolled in her first Basic Training class, starting next week! My momma is sissie, Pickles, not so much! Heehee

  17. Franklin is supposed to start school soon, but we've been working with him here at home. So far we've taught him to get up on the furniture, which he just refused to do when we got him. I've had no luck teaching him to be a picky eater, though, but I have taught him to pull on the leash when walked. I don't know what the so called professional trainers have in mind. I think I'm doing just fine so far, but the Moms seem to have some other ideas.

  18. Good Morning Blog Hop friend,
    Thanks for sharing the story of your extra-special bond with Bunny. I've been working on training the Joke Puppy daddy for about 8 years now.

  19. We couldn't agree more. Mom worked with us each individually and we walk with her alone often as well. Me an' Bart are so bonded cuz we're litter mates, that that individual time made a huge difference to us as a pack. And now that we have Ruby with us, the individual work with Mom seems to have built her confidence :-) Ruby loves your pink coat!


  20. What a lovely post! Isn`t it funny how sometimes we just bond with a certain if it were destined for us to be in thier lives?

  21. Enjoyed the post. I got my first dog Sammy 9 years ago. Since he is my first we've connected in certain ways. He is more obedient and then I got Shiloh as a companion to Sammy and myself of course. Shiloh is more sensitive to my feelings of when I'm sad and comes to me to comfort me and spend time. Both dogs are very affectionate and have crazy personalities which was/is a challenge sometimes and I love them both dearly.

  22. Training would definitely deepen your bond but sometimes, we bond with certain pets for reasons we don't fully understand. In any event, it's a wonderful thing to love -- and be loved by -- a pet!

  23. Wow, what a beautiful post. The bonds we doggies have with our peeps is the most important to us. Bunny is a real beauty and we love her and your entire pack!
    Grr and Woof,
    Sarge, COP

  24. Since I'm the only one then I guess I get all the attention and training that others would have you are very fortunate...don't take anything for granted.

  25. Another lovely post! Our bonds are precious!!


    PeeS: Can't wait for the upcoming race!!!

  26. I totally agree about your bond with your dog getting stronger through training. I think that's why Riley and I have such a strong bond. She follows me everywhere and has to know which room I'm in when I'm home and she's usually right beside me. I didn't know Bunny was a therapy dog too. (Well, this is only my second time on your blog...)

    Elyse (and Riley)

  27. Cooper and I are in obedience classes to. We are in our last two weeks of our first class. We are doing well with the commands but it turns out cooper has some leash aggression. Hopefully that will fade so we can still work toward therapy dog.

  28. Wonderful post. I agree that going through training classes together is often part of building a strong bond. it's where many people first learn about two-way communication with their dogs.

    But I do think there is chemistry or something else that just happens with certain dogs. My first childhood dog was so precious to me that I still weep thinking of him 40 years later. I've loved every dog in my life but I've never felt anything quite as amazing as my bond with Duchess.

  29. You make a very good case for training! I need to spend a lot more time on it - and I'm sure I'm not the only one...

  30. We're firm believers in training. It's a great way to get to know your dog and he/she know you. A sense of trust evolves throughout the various classes along with mutual love and devotion.

  31. We are glad you and Bunny have each other, it sounds like a beautiful bond that you share.

  32. I really enjoyed reading your blog! So glad I joined the pet blogger today. I'm afraid I may have to start over with training because it seems my Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Buddy, has been training me!

  33. There is something to say about training..Cali bonded with me while getting certified with Delta for therapy dog work. She automatically bonded with Jason..I had to work harder for her snuggles. ;-)

  34. What a thoughtful post. There is such an intimate bonding that happens when we train with our dogs and get to know each other inside and out. I am just now starting to understand the value of that bonding time and how very important it is. Thanks for the reminder and the reinforcement.

  35. I know you two have a very special bond!
    Happy saturday!
    Kisses and hugs

  36. Well, you know I definitely agree with you! Formal training is more than just training behaviors - both the dog and the handler learn to understand each other in such a new, deep way. I'm so happy I do a lot of training with Marge - you're right, it does help me read and understand her better, and I think it helps her to know what it is exactly I want or need.

  37. Heya!

    Charlie and I wanted to thank you lots and lots for coming over and sending us love during our tough times.

    Charlie would also like to say that he LOVES training and it's what brought us closer than ever.

    I have big hopes for Emma (tricks-wise, it's hard to compete in NYC, not a lot of venues) and I know it'll only strengthen our relationship!

  38. A bunnie bond was built on obedience and skool? I'm definitely hiding this post from my mom... hee hee.

  39. We think we have different bonds with each dog a lot like we had with the kids!
    They are both very different and need us in different ways.
    We love them both to bits!

  40. I couldn't agree more. Through training, both you and your dog learn what to expect from each and learn to communicate. Sometime, after a lot of training, things become so simple - very little talking required as you do things together.

    I love activities where there's give and take on both sides. I learned that most in canine search and rescue since my dog was the true "searcher" in the pair of us. But, even in hiking, K "covers my back" a lot. If I get obsesses with checking something out, I turn around and see her standing guard behind my back. Believe it or not, I even caught R doing this guard behavior during a recent bike ride!

    In your case, I'm guessing that the therapy dog work also makes a big difference to the two of you.

    But, like you, I also think that some dogs and people were simply made for each other. You and Bunny. Me and K. We're pretty lucky!

  41. Great post! Sounds like you get to enjoy a lot of the same things with Bunny that I do with Brutus! I once had hopes Brute might be a therapy dog, but his reactivity makes it impractical - wheelchairs and powerchairs are some of the toughest things for him to deal with! So much for that dream, eh? I can see how your hounds would make wonderful therapy dogs though - such gentle creatures they are! I had no idea this was APDT train your dog month - guess my post had perfect timing too!

    Michelle, Brutus & Carmen

  42. Great post!

    I saw on Roo's blog that you are racing Mr. Pip. Don't let his little size fool you!

    Give Blueberry and Lilac a kiss for me!


  43. I had a feeling you would like Leanna's blog, and her bunnies! LOL! I know she will love your blog too! She is super friendly and Dawn liked her the moment she met her at the New Jersey Conference. :)



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