5 ways to maintain the perfect working relationship with your dog
Chudleys brand ambassador and renowned gundog trainer, Howard Kirby, offers his five top tips for maintaining and enhancing that strong working relationship with our canine sidekicks.
1. Building a strong working relationship with our dogs is such a fulfilling, rewarding and important thing to do. Like ourselves, our dogs enjoy affection. For generations, humans have selected and chosen to live with dogs that enjoy our company. Spending time grooming, stroking, sitting or allowing our dogs to lie along aside us gives both them and us enormous pleasure and helps establish a bond and verify relationships.
2. We can use food to shape, engineer and then reward for behaviour that we like. For companion and working dogs alike, this is an essential element of our dogs’ development. They are masters of strategy and will offer and modify their behaviour to get what they want. By managing and using a well-planned training regime, a dog’s daily food requirements — whether that’s Working Crunch or Classic — will encourage the dog to look to us for reward.
3. Working dogs come in many different guises — security, herding, search and rescue, gundog and assistance dogs are just some of the specialist areas that dogs are asked to work in. In many cases, we use the dog’s natural instincts to hunt and retrieve. The use of toys and dummies, if used correctly, give opportunity to stimulate enthusiasm, drive, energy and, importantly, self-control and steadiness. Time spent training a dog will build a strong bond and help to strengthen the relationship.
4. Boundaries and rules are an essential part of a good working relationship — our dogs need to understand what we do and don’t want them to do. Again, we can use affection, food and toys to reward good or desired behaviour. By simply withholding reward, we can also discourage many of the unwanted traits that dogs might bring into a relationship. Mouthing, chasing, jumping up or pulling on the lead will all need to be discouraged.
5. If we want our dogs to look to us for leadership, we need to offer them safety and security — this is often overlooked. If we are clear, concise and consistent in our interactions with them, this allows trust and confidence to build. It’s essential that we take the time to learn the complex skills required to train dogs. It’s all about communication. Setting up a clear and easily understood language between ourselves and our dogs will enhance a working relationship.