6 Things I’ve learned from 6 years of marriage (and how you can apply them to creating a better relationship with your dog)

By Nick Miller

A quick disclaimer:  I don’t approach my marriage like a dog trainer.  I don’t think that would have gone over so well with my progressive, and independent (and lovely) wife.  But owning a dog is a long term relationship, and there are certain things that are constant in any relationship, no matter what species we’re talking about.  So hold the wise cracks for the end of post 🙂


Part 2 of 3


Communication is Key – A moment of truth for you all.  If I’m not careful I have the tendency to be extremely introverted in my relationships, especially when I’m going through a difficult patch.  That can be problematic in my marriage, because when something is stressing me I can easily shut down and not talk about it with my wife.  I know this is difficult for any partner to deal with, especially when the issue is “outside” of the marriage.  For example, if something at work, or another family member is bothering me, or the fact that the Sun will one day turn into a red giant and it’s mass will increase to a size that will engulf the earth and other planets… you know stuff like that… and I don’t communicate that to my wife she might think there is something I’m upset about with her, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I’ve gotten better at it as the years have gone by, because I’m better at catching myself unconsciously doing it.  Once I become conscious of it and I realize what’s going on, I talk to her.  She feels better, I feel better and it’s generally all good.

Our dogs are always watching us.  They can’t speak english, so they become adept at picking up on our physical cues.  Not communicating to our dogs what it is we want from them is just unfair.  This is an area where we simply might not be conscious of what we are doing, or not communicating (or, actually, communicating but just not realizing we’re communicating).  Remember, training is always happening with our dog.  And since training is just another word for relationship, that means our relationship is always changing and always evolving.  If we’re not careful, than we can unconsciously make choices that harm our relationship with our dog.  If we’re on our phone as we’re walking out the door with our dog and forget to have them sit and wait until we tell them to go through — “What’s the big deal?  It’s happening just this once!” — than we’re falling trap to not communicating with them (or, again, communicating but not realizing what we’re communicating).

Communicating with your dog (or your spouse) is part of the work of maintaining a good relationship.  It is a language older than words and one that we must have the greatest respect for.  Once you show up make sure that you’re communicating clearly and consistently with your dog.

Small Changes Have Lasting Impact – This is true in many aspects of life, but especially true in our relationships.  Whether it’s remembering to always say “I love you” before going to bed, or making it a habit to do small favors for one another before the other has to ask, the little things compound over time and create amazing dynamics in my marriage.

While it may seem that big changes are occurring with our training dogs all the time at The Urban Hound (especially when we have them in for our board and train programs) the truth to the matter is that big changes and behavior modification are the result of creating positive habits with your dog over time.  We all know that habits can be difficult to stick to, so I always recommend starting small so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.  An example of this is keeping your dog on the leash when you’re inside the house.  From potty training a puppy, to working with territorial issues to just plain having a dog that is out of control, a leash on in the house can help with all of this.  It’s a simple habit, a small change and one that can have lasting impact over time.


You can contact Nick via email nick@urbanhounds.com, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @nicklesarescary.  This blog post was approved by his wife, Amy.