Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

The Dog Partnership…

The Dog Partnership:

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true,to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion‘ author unknown

The Dog Partnership thinking focuses on the spirit of co-operation and friendship between dogs and people. It nurtures a harmonious relationship based on mutual trust and respect.

A Dog is Man’s Best friend, but is Man a Dog’s Best Friend?

You wouldn’t dream of training your human friends. You make your opinions and feelings clear, and boundaries are established. You get on because you agree about what‘s right and what’s wrong.

You and your best friend understand each other perfectly without having to explain things to each other, because you know what each other is thinking. Our aim is for you to develop the same depth of friendship with your dog.

The Pleasure Principle
Of course dogs need to learn essential life skills, such an instant STOP and DOWN and COME for safety reasons.

But with a true friendship, many skills come naturally without training. Because just like human friends, your dog gets immense pleasure out of being your best friend.

The Dog Partnership considers the dog’s emotions first, not their behavior

To understand your dog’s emotions, you need first to understand your own

What is a behavior?
A behavior is what a dog does
With each behavior there is an emotion

What is an emotion?
An emotion is how the dog feels
With each emotion there is a behavior

How do you change an unsociable behavior?
Punish unsociable behavior and reward sociable behavior
Ignore unsociable behavior and reward sociable behavior
Teach an alternative behavior

Changing Behavior Does Not Necessarily Change Emotion

How can you change an emotion?
You can not
You can influence a dog’s emotions but you cannot change them
Only the dog has control of his emotions.

A Change in Emotion ALWAYS results in a Change in Behavior

What can influence a dog’s emotions?

1) Your emotions. e.g. Relaxed body posture and slow rhythmic breathing will encourage relaxation in the dog.

It is essential that you relax in a way that is natural to you personally; some people relax with their hands behind their heads, some across their chest and some with their arms alongside their body.

There are no rules. If the body posture is not natural to the person, it will not have a positive effect on the dog.

Slow rhythmic breathing accompanies any relaxing body posture.

2) A safe and controlled environment where the dog has the space and freedom to express his feelings and work through them.

In this environment, allow the dog to change his behavior of his own volition. He will then learn for himself how changing his behavior changes how he feels. The dog will recognize which behavior creates a positive feeling and which behavior creates a negative feeling.On this recognition, they actively choose the behavior that creates the positive feeling. Thus the sociable behavior itself is self-rewarding

Problem Solving with The Dog Partnership


Whilst history is interesting, it does not influence how you work with the dog today. Why the dog initially became aggressive can be considered during an assessment. But it is more important to assess and understand how they feel about their chosen coping strategy today.

For instance, if a dog was attacked at fourteen weeks then at that time they were probably terrified. By the time the dog reaches fourteen months, they will have developed their own coping strategy.

Self-Rewarding Behaviours

You can change a dog’s behaviour through training but that does not mean that you have changed how they feel. The dog alone has sole responsibility of their emotions.

You need to provide situations and environment where they can learn to take this responsibility. Giving the dog time and space to assess a perceived problem situation themselves, without human interference, will allow this to happen.

It has been said that if a person feels angry at something or someone, they are the only one who is suffering. This is because the feeling of anger is a negative emotion. If they learn how to control their anger, they will not experience this negative emotion. Thus, learning to take control of their emotions is self-rewarding. This also applies to dogs.

If they choose to drive the dog away by showing aggression, they will experience a sense of relief. It is the feeling of relief that reinforces this behavior. There is no need for treats, toys or praise from the owner involved; it is a self-rewarding behavior.

If provided with the right environment, the dog can learn that not showing aggression is a also self-rewarding behavior; without the need for toys or treats or praise from the owner. You want your dog to stop any anti-social behavior of their own volition thus learning how positive they feel for doing so.

The dog learns that the being aggressive is a negative feeling where as not being aggressive is a positive feeling. On realizing this, most dogs choose the behavior that creates the positive feeling – not being aggressive.

(There are, of course, always exceptions. Some dogs bred for fighting become over aroused the longer they are in an ‘aggressive’ situation. In this instance, a more structured approach may be needed.)

The Next Step
It is essential that anyone working with aggression issues is skilled in reading dog communication. As the dog learns to control their emotions, their learning ability is enhanced. Situations are presented, in a safe environment, where there are other dogs and people.

When the dog has learns how to control their emotions, they are able to look at perceived threats in a calmer manner. Therefore, they can learn to overcome, through positive experience, that people and/or other dogs do not pose a threat to them or their family.

It is of paramount importance that they are able to read the very first signals of stress. Situations for learning have to be such that the dog does not become so stressed that they cannot learn. For instance, a dog with aggression towards other dogs may only be able to learn if the other dog is 20 meters away where others can cope if they are only ten meters away.

An in depth assessment of the dog’s general emotional state is essential before engaging in any rehabilitation program. Many dogs will need a program put into practice in the home to build self-confidence and feel more secure before presenting the problem situation.

What kind of relationship would you like with your dog?

Some people enjoy a friendship with a lot of physical interaction. A friendship where the ultimate pleasure is cuddling up on the sofa together.

Other people prefer a less intense friendship where general interaction is less physical. A friendship where the ultimate pleasure may be walking in open countryside for an afternoon.

What kind of relationship would your dog like with you?

Some dogs enjoy a friendship with a lot of physical interaction. A friendship where the ultimate pleasure is cuddling up on the sofa together.

Other dogs may prefer a less intense friendship where general interaction is less physical. A friendship where the ultimate pleasure may be walking in open countryside for an afternoon.

Mutual Respect and Trust

Dogs and people are the same where friendships are concerned. If you are living with a dog whose emotional needs are different from your own, it can be really difficult. It can cause communication breakdown between you, as with any relationship.

Your dog has no choice but to live with you. They cannot leave you because they need a different type of friendship. Therefore, as their guide and protector, it is your responsibility to consider their needs before your own.

Likewise with activities. You may enjoy Obedience but your dog may not. Your dog may enjoy Agility but you may not. In which case, partaking in either activity will do nothing to enhance your friendship. If anything it is likely to have a damaging effect on it.

If you take your partner shopping and they don’t want to go, by the end of the day, you are almost angry with each other. You can’t wait to spend time away from each other. The same principle applies to engaging in an activity that you or your dog does not enjoy. There are so many activities you can partake in with your dog. You just need to find an activity you both enjoy. Search and Rescue work is excellent.

In Search and Rescue you have to allow your dog to take control, as he has a better sense of smell than you. This can really enhance your friendship with your dog as you are showing them that you trust them. By giving your dog control of a situation and listening to them, you are also showing them respect. Respect and trust should be mutual between friends. Your dog is your friend and should be given the same consideration as any other friends.

Want to know more?

The dog has all the answers; it is for you to find the right questions.


Dog Partnership – h/t to Patricia Gillenwater

January 21, 2012 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, NO KILL NATION, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , | 1 Comment

Therapy is for the dogs

Dear John:

What do you think about dog psychologists? Me? Not so much. –RNT


If you’re talking about someone who brings the dog into their office, sticks it on the couch and asks it if it hates its mother, then me not so much either. However, dogs are intelligent and anyone that has studied dog behavior in its nuances and variations in breeds and individual dogs might consider themselves students of dog psychology. Dog psychologist? A little self-aggrandizing, I think.

There are dog trainers that call themselves "behaviorists," and earlier in my career when I thought such a thing would distinguish me from the run of the mill dog trainer, I embraced the term. After a while, I thought it was silly and so now I’m just a dog trainer that believes in ethology with a strong emphasis on field observation, and has done a fair amount of literature study.

There is a branch of veterinary science now that certifies veterinarians as behaviorists. I believe their intellectual focus is mistakenly inverted when compared to that of a good dog trainer, with much more theoretical and laboratory emphasis rather than field experience. In my experience, they seem to have a poor grasp of the real world of dogs and their owners. I’m sure there are exceptions, but when it comes to actually training a wide range of dogs, as of yet I haven’t met one that seemed to know the difference between a scientific paper and a pee pad. They seem to think that saying "no" to a dog will ruin its self-esteem forever.

I recently learned of a new branch of the pet mental health services, and if anything has ever got anyone’s goat, my goat was got. On the truck radio, there was a pet psychic. I almost ran into the ditch. If I hadn’t been driving I would have called her to see if she could figure out what I was thinking. Vomit and the word charlatan would have figured prominently.

Outside of the world of fantasy, here is what you’ll find good and bad as your advisory options: people who have owned a dog or a few dogs. Their advice is often unsolicited. There are the "ignore bad behavior – reward good behavior" all-positive trainers – often "certified" – who think they’re training for obedience, but are actually not getting much past the trick level. Then there are balanced dog trainers that excel at obedience, teaching dogs to do practical things as if it was a job instead of a trick.

Then there are trainers that have personally trained a thousand or more dogs. They can consistently help teach a dog to stop doing something harmful to others or itself, or at least reduce the impact of the negative behavior on the dog and dog owner’s lifestyle. Or they can do what to me is the mark of a true professional: be honest and be able to explain why meaningful change isn’t going to happen.

Over the years, people interested in becoming dog trainers have approached me. They emphasize how much they love dogs, working with dogs, reading about dogs, etc. That doesn’t move me much. Loving dogs is easy. Whatever the other requirements, a good dog trainer must love people. Without that natural ability in the forefront, it won’t matter what they call themselves.

Pawsitively yours,

John Wade  -  Johnwade.ca

John Wade helps dog owners through his books, workshops and telephone consultations. If you have a question email him at johnwade@johnwade.ca.

And then there is that special trainer, behaviorist, psychologist or even a whisperer… or whatever you want to call them.  Any one who has watch Cesar Milan in action, live or on TV knows they exist.


Posted:  Just One More Pet

April 16, 2011 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, NO KILL NATION, Pet and Animal Training, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership, Stop Animal Cruelty, Success Stories, Unusual Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment