It’s going to happen either way. The tone of the interaction with our dog will be set. Is it going to be excited energy or calm? Are we nervous about how our dog will behave, or quietly confident in the work we’ve put in? Is our dog making all of the decisions (and are we just reacting?), or are we taking the approach of being the calm and patient teachers, thinking one step ahead and working with the dog?
The general tone is set by the rules we establish for our dogs. These are the basic rules of life. Does the dog think to get permission from us before jumping up on a couch? Does he wait patiently for food? Does she pull on the leash at whatever might be more interesting and more rewarding than what we have to offer her? Have we established a basic level of respect?
The general tone then sets us up for success (or doesn’t) with the specific tones. And this is where the practice of obedience training comes into play. The down-stay, the loose leash walk and the off leash recall. Essentially, teaching the dog to control their impulses – acts that may feel very unnatural to them.
It is up to us. We can decide the tone we want. Or we can be bystanders to our relationship with our dog. It’s going to happen either way.