Bonding with Dog Leads to Successful Training

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Why was the book and movie Marley and Me such a hit? It told a compelling story of a deeply felt human-dog bond. This story of a family and Marley, their beloved Golden Retriever, joined a long history of stories centering on that canine-human bond. All have been based on the special experience of connecting with dogs and training them based on that bond.

Dogs Instincts for Human Bond

Over centuries of evolution of their brains, dogs acquired an ability to pick up cues from humans that other animals do not have. Dogs are animals, and their intelligence level varies among breeds, but all seem to have an instinctive ability to read humans, to interpret from gestures what owners want them to do.

Bond with Dog for Companionship

A rewarding companionship between dog and owner must be based on their strong bond. The bond can be formed at any stage of a dog’s life. It can happen with a puppy or an older dog, even if the dog has had several owners.

Dogs will bond with all family members, but only on a one-to-one basis, and usually will be strongest with one individual. The only way that bond can be formed is through genuine, consistent affection for the dog.

How to Form a Bond With a Dog

Include the dog in day to day life. A true bond won’t likely be created when a dog is shut away for most of the day and has very little human interaction, even at the end of the day.

Spending time together in different ways is important. Walking in the park, taking in local events, playing fetch, and sitting quietly together are good options.

Learn to read the dog’s body language and respond accordingly. For example, if the dog is upset or afraid of another dog, observe the dog’s movements and avoid the situation by leading the dog away.

Strong Bond the Basis for Successful Dog Training

When a strong human bond is established, obedience training has a far greater chance of success. Remember, each dog has its own personality, so its ability and its willingness to be trained will differ. Dogs show an exceptional ability to recognize words and tone of voice. Even so, patience is required, because training doesn’t happen overnight. Keep these dog training guidelines in mind:

  • Be consistent.
  • Give clear, concise commands.
  • Give one command at a time and be sure always to reward compliance.
  • Use your dog’s name when giving a command.
  • Always initiate activity. You’re the leader.
  • Finish any training activity with a bit of fun to leave your dog wanting more.

Building a solid bond with a dog and enjoy a wonderful companionship and other benefits that will endure for years, especially if training is built on that bond.

The Call of the Wild, a Classic Dog Story

No story of a dog’s bond with his master tops Jack London’s book, The Call of the Wild. Buck, a St. Bernard/Collie, is doted on by his master in a bond of companionship and affection. Stolen from this home, then sold as a sled dog in the frozen Yukon Territory, Buck uses all his survival instincts to endure the remote, frozen outreaches of civilization and the rivalry of the pack. The story’s dramatic conclusion shows that Buck’s bond of deep devotion to his master never dies.

Strange Puppy Behaviors: Like Babies, Puppies Need Special Food and Care

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Nearly everyone has smelled puppy breath and seen puppies scratching fleas or licking an ant bite, but what should be done about really strange behaviors? Before calling in the Dog Whisperer for intervention, try these simple suggestions for the oddest doggie pranks.

Physical Distress in Puppies

  • Eating non-food items. In humans, this condition (known as pica) represents a serious psychological condition in which people consume paint, detergent, clay and other toxic non-foods. In puppies, however, eating rocks, feces, or other noxious substances is usually a sign of not getting enough nourishment.
  • Suggestions: Check the package of the puppy chow to be sure that the dog gets enough to eat. As its weight increases rapidly over the first few months, food amounts continue to increase also. Stay on top of these changes or the puppy might start eating non-food items to sound the gravy-train alert to its owner. (Puppies sometimes won’t eat out of a bowl that another dog has used. Replace the bowl if another dog’s scent is keeping the puppy from eating its food.)
  • Straining during bowel movements. If a puppy has difficulty with bowel movements and especially if it screams in pain while defecating, then there’s a definite problem. It’s important to notice whether or not the puppy is successful in its attempts to relieve itself. Straining with pain and without success may indicate an immature pancreas or other part of the digestive tract (this is mostly seen with puppies born prematurely or under duress, such as in cases of abuse and animal cruelty).
  • Suggestions: Describe the symptoms to a veterinarian, including whether or not the puppy was premature, how often it attempts to defecate, and its success rate. A laxative for mild cases and a prescription pancreatic enzyme for serious cases may solve the problem.

Emotional Distress in Puppies

  • Crying. The trauma of adjusting to a new home upsets some puppies very much, especially at night when crying may begin and continue for what seems like the entire night. They may be cold, uncomfortable, scared, and alone for the first time in their short lives.
  • Suggestions: Make their bedding area soft and comfortable in a warm spot in the house. Sometimes a night light takes away the fear of the dark, a radio on at a low level makes them feel like they’re not alone, and a clothing item from their new owner placed in their bed may also provide comfort. An additional trick to try: Buy a soft, stuffed animal about the same size as the puppy and place the new “friend” in the bed to relieve the loneliness.
  • Neurotic behaviors: Puppies may have anxiety attacks (during thunderstorms, fireworks displays, car rides, etc.) and eating disorders (arranging food before eating, spreading kibbles around the house, finicky eater) just like people. In fact, most veterinarians conclude that neurotic dog behavior comes from the family.
  • Suggestions: If these behaviors seem dangerous or especially bothersome, such as extreme anti-social behavior, consult a veterinarian or dog therapist. Otherwise, just accept the eccentricities of your puppy as making it uniquely special.

In addition to love, puppies need special care like human infants do. Rather than ignoring potential problems, seek answers immediately either online or through a local veterinarian.

What Should I Give my Puppy to Chew?: Not Everything on the Market is Suitable for Teething Dogs

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Puppies need items to chew on in order to keep them busy. If they don’t have items to chew on, they may destroy things around the house, like your favorite pair of shoes. Not everything for sale in the dog aisle is suitable for puppies though, as some chewing items can even be harmful to dogs under one year of age.

Items that are unsuitable for puppies to chew include:


Though readily available anywhere pet supplies are sold, rawhide items should not be given to a dog until she is at least one year old. The developing digestive systems of young puppies can not always digest rawhide. If a puppy eats a piece of rawhide, it can damage her throat, stomach, or intestines, causing an expensive trip to the vet.


Also, puppies tend to swallow rawhide whole, or in large chunks, not only causing the aforementioned problems, but choking as well. Rawhide is better for dogs with more experience, dogs who realize it is better to eat little chunks, rather than whole pieces.

Pigs Ears

Most dogs find pig’s ears delicious, but they are not for puppies. Again, like rawhide, puppies like to try and swallow pig’s ears whole, and their digestive systems are not equipped to deal with such a burden. A dog should only swallow a piece of pig ear after they have worked at it to get it soft a chewy. Most puppies just don’t have the patience to wear a pig’s ear down.

Vinyl Chew Toys

These cheap squeak toys usually last about 5 minutes, but take a couple of days for the puppy to pass the pieces of the toy out the other end. This is never pleasant for the puppy, or the owner. Invest in latex or rubber chew toys, as they are more resilient to chewing, and last longer.

Items suitable for puppies to chew include:

Latex and Rubber Toys

As previously mentioned, these toys have more give to them, so that a puppy has a hard time braking off and swallowing chunks of the toy. Kong toys are the staple in the market, as treats can be put in them to further entertain the puppy, but any high quality rubber toy will do.


Bones made out of nylon flake off in rice grain size pieces and easily pass through the digestive track of a puppy. These bones are often infused with flavor, helping to entice puppies to chew them. Nylabone also makes a dental bone that is covered with bumps, which are great for teething puppies.

Rope and Material Toys

Puppies are much like teething children, and enjoy putting items with different textures in their mouths. Many toys incorporate rope, rubber, and sturdy material to satisfy the urge of a puppy to chew many different textures. Some of these toys can even be put into the freeze to help sooth the painful gums of a teething puppy.

Natural Bones

Though messy, natural bones provide hours of entertainment for puppies. A puppy just loves to gnaw off every little piece of meat they can find on a natural marrow bone or beef knuckle. Make sure the bones have either been smoked and boiled in salt water, or are completely uncooked. If the bones have been cooked, they will splinter and possibly injure the dog.

Whenever a puppy is given something to chew, they should always be supervised to ensure that they don’t choke. If you have any questions about the suitability of a chew toy for your puppy, a staff member at your favorite pet store should be able to help.