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.
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.
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.
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!