Dog Owner or Dog Guardian?

dog man bench guardian or owner

Dog Owner or Dog Guardian - which one are you?

People who have dogs are commonly referred to as owners, masters or pack leaders, which gives people the impression that dogs are property or followers, who should do what we say when we say it without needing to put in the effort to teach them.

So, instead of being a dog owner, why not be a dog guardian? Vow to love, protect and educate your dog! As a dog guardian, it is up to you to make sure that your dog is well educated, feels protected and cared for.

As with all social animals a family requires a guardian or role model, which is not to be feared but trusted and respected. Gain the trust and respect of your dog and their confidence in you will grow. You will have a dog that you can take anywhere, as they know they are always safe with you.

To gain this trust will take time and can be gained through positive reward based training, playing fun games and providing plenty of mental and physical stimulation which will all help to build up your dog’s confidence in both themselves and you.

Learning to read your dog will help you to judge how they may react to a situation – why? So you can make sure it’s a positive experience.
Behavioural problems can develop in dogs due to the dog’s lack of confidence in their owner and / or the owner’s lack of ability to read their dog’s body language appropriately. The owners may have been attempting to communicate with their pet in a way another dog would, which can be very confusing for both parties!

Dogs learn by association, repetition and the consequence of their actions, especially if there is a treat involved. Reward based training is not about bribing your dog. It is about motivating the dog to work for you because they want to - not because they feel they have to. Consistent positive reward based training will help you to bond with your dog. Treats can be slowly phased out, and your affection will be the best reward, however an extra treat here and there wont hurt to help reinforce the command.

If your dog views you as the most amazing thing in the world they will listen to your every command, because they know good things always happen when they listen to you! Dogs usually do something if they find it rewarding. This can be as simple as a ‘sit’ for a piece of chicken, or jumping on the kitchen table, as last time they found something tasty to chew on. This can be difficult for first time dog owners, but with a bit of patience and consistent training, even the most stubborn of dogs and most nervous of owners will enjoy and look forward to spending time with each other.

Once you become a dog guardian and start to view your dog’s problems through a guardian’s eyes, the bond between you and your dog will improve in leaps and barks.

Danielle Beck BSc (Hons) Provisional Member APBC

Danielle has a degree in zoology and has been studying and working with animals for 10 years.