Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
While building a bond with your dog may seem like a no brainer, it actually takes more work than you may think.
Yes, that tail may be wagging back and forth with enough kinetic force to power a small village, but that could be because you’re eating a double-bacon cheeseburger, and your four-legged friend is anxiously waiting for you to drop it.
A strong bond is something else.
Task & Purpose turned to Mike Dowling, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War, and a former military working dog handler to ask him how to build and maintain a healthy relationship with one’s dog.
For starters, it begins the moment you meet, explained Dowling, and anyone who has ever had one can attest to that.
However, like all relationships it doesn’t start fully formed.
“There’s no shortcut to establishing a bond with your dog, said Dowling. “It takes time and trust and you can’t do anything over time to betray that trust.”
Maintaining a strong bond with your dog isn’t that different from maintaining a healthy relationship with a person.
“A lot of the rules in terms of building a relationship and not doing something in a relationship with another person applies to a dog,” explained Dowling. “It’s based more on emotion and feeling, because it’s not like you can talk to your dog, but you can speak to them in other ways.”
So since long drawn out conversations over beers are out of the question — or should be; getting your dog sloshed is way less fun the next day — here’s what you can do to build that bond.
First off, you can’t force it.
“There’s a common saying that emotions run down and up leash,” said Dowling. “What that means is if you as an owner or handler are having a bad day, your dog is going to end up having a bad day. You're going to put that energy down leash and your dog is going to feel that.”
If you or your dog are having a crappy day, then maybe you should skip that training session you had planned or maybe pass on obedience class tonight.
“They’re going to sense that from you, and likewise if you show up and your dog is having a bad day, you need to be able to recognize that because you don’t want to train them when you know that’s something off because you’re just going to add more stress.”
The easiest way to build a strong relationship with your dog is to just do something fun together.
“More fundamentally, be positive,” said Dowling. “Just always be positive around them when they’re having good behavior and when they’re developing good habits.”
Additionally, Dowling said you should reinforce obedience, not only because it’s good to have a dog that won’t pee in the house or yank on the leash, but because it gives you something to work on together.
“Also obedience every single day because it’s the foundation of training. It doesn’t have to be a full-on training session, you just do it everyday,” said Dowling. “It becomes ingrained in them and they just respond to you.”
Another thing you can do is go on adventures together. Yes. Adventures.
“One of the things I love about dogs is that it kind of makes you be an active person,” said Dowling. “You can’t have a good relationship if you’re just inside with your dog. You need to take them outside and be active with them. Take them exercising with you, go running with them, get them out of the typical environment and take them into new environments with you.”
Exploring new places with your dog gets you both off the couch and out and about, but it also reinforces their trust in you.
“Just take them into new environments,” said Dowling. “That just makes them want to trust you more because they’re going to trust that you’re leading them in a way that they’ll end up returning home safe, and you’re going to keep them protected.”
Now that we know that a healthy relationship requires, here’s what it looks like.
“A healthy relationship is when you’re just clicking on all cylinders, one and the same,” said Dowling. “You move as a dog team together. Your energy is in sync on every level there is. You’re feeling good, they’re feeling good and just by the slightest, subtle movement, you can tell what your dog’s emotions are.”
Dowling explains that a healthy relationship and a strong bond means “having a full understanding of your dog and your dog having a full understanding of you without any words needing to be spoken.”
Building a strong bond is one thing, now that you have it, don’t lose it.
Don’t erode your dog’s trust.
“You don’t want any gaps,” said Dowling, explaining that this means unnecessary breaks in training and changes in your daily routine, and of course, long periods of separation.
“You don’t want to be separated from your dog for an extended period of time because then they can get confused and get separation anxiety,” said Dowling.
In short, if you don’t need to leave your dog, then don’t.
“Obviously you don’t need to be with them 24/7, but if you don’t need to be gone without them for a week, month, or whatever it is, let them come with you if you can,” said Dowling. “Don’t put them in a position where they don’t see you for an extended period of time.”
Finally, you can’t undermine your dog’s trust.
“Never betray the dog’s trust in you,” said Dowling. “Don’t unnecessarily cause any stress on them in any way whatsoever.”
A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.
It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.
Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.
No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.
Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.
"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.