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Ways To Strengthen Bond And Communicate Better With Your Dog Make sure you appreciate the lockdown period spent with your dog and use it to build an even better rapport with your best friend

By Tanya Patel

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You're one of the lucky ones if you are spending the lockdown in house arrest with a dog for company. Our pooches are great companions in times of crises, always there to give you a laugh with their antics or cheer you up just by being around. Make sure you appreciate this time spent together and use it to build an even better rapport with your best friend. The dog-owner relationship is built on trust and a clear understanding of each other and your pet and you have never spend this much quality time together make the most of it.

During this period, you will learn a lot of things about your dog just by your powers of observation. Most of a dog's communication with you, or other creatures for that matter, is non-verbal. Pick up on those simple cues from him—he may turn away or walk off from you showing you he's bored or disinterested, or just break eye contact to avoid you when you're cuddling him a little too much. Just one look from him can mean he's asking you to pet him, or he might nudge you with his head or paw you to ask for his favourite belly rubs.

Training your dog is a very effective way for you both to understand each other better. A dog learns in the form of patterns of behavior, a behavior pattern is formed when it is reinforced positively. As you teach your pup something, see how long it takes for him to form that pattern and understand it. Add in non-verbal cues for the commands and watch how quickly your dog picks up on it. With each new trick you work at teaching him, not only will he learn faster and faster but you will be able to pick up on if he's comprehending or whether it will take longer or if he's just about given up. This will improve your communication with each other by leaps and bounds. Training is also a super fun activity for any dog—they thorough enjoy all the extra treats, praise and petting that goes along with it, which makes it a great way to deepen your canine connect.

Playing with your dog is absolutely essential in building your relationship. From silly games of our own to actual structured dog games like fetch, find or tug, all of these help in developing the canine—human bond. The pup-parent relationship has got to be more than just giving commands and obeying them. You both should be having tonnes of fun together. When you're playing though, make sure the game is about you and him, and not just about the toys involved. For example, if while playing your dog takes the toy and runs away instead of coming to you, then he'd rather play with the toy than you with you, right? Or maybe it means you've taken the toy away more often than actually given it back to him. Figure out what he wants when you're playing with him, does he want to be chased or does he want to run with the toy instead? Add hand gestures as part of your games to really see if you guys can have a good game without saying a single word. Different breeds prefer different games, so pick games that you feel go with your dog's natural instinct. Labradors must retrieve or love anything to do with water, a beagle would die for a scenting game, a terrier would adore a great game of tug.

Some dogs love being pet and in turn thoroughly enjoy being groomed. Grooming your dog regularly can be extremely beneficial for both parties involved. If your mutt allows grooming it signifies trust in the relationship between you two. If he doesn't like it, you can use this spare time to desensitize him to grooming through short positives experiences. This will deepen your bond and create more trust in the equation. You can make grooming a positive experience by pairing it with his favourite chew toy. Grooming is also a very relaxing and calming activity for the owner, as you know just petting a dog lowers stress levels and instantly perks you up.

Just a simple walk with your pet is a great way to make you closer together. If you both enjoy running then you can even do a short run or a few quick laps around your building. If he enjoys these daily walks with you, it'll give him something more to look forward to from you each day. You could also build a whole exercise routine for your dog - teach him to jump up and get off the couch, make a makeshift tunnel with some sheets over the coffee table or make him zig-zag right through the dining table chairs lined up. Then do all of these in a sequence like some kind of doggy sport!

Tanya Patel

Dog Trainer & Behaviourist

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