According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary a bond is "the formation of a close relationship (as between a mother and child or between a person and an animal) especially through frequent or constant association". While this seems like a simple idea it has huge implications for your relationship with your dog and how readily your dog will learn while you are training with them.
How do we make our dogs enjoy working for us? By bonding and making training fun!
Bonding begins the second you bring your new puppy or dog home. You become their source of everything; food, shelter, and fun. Teaching a puppy good manners is important, but so is enjoying your dog. Play with them, go outside, and make sure you have one on one time with them if you have other pets. Whether this is rolling around in the grass, playing fetch or playing with a tug, just play and have fun together. Play alone will not create a bong though. Providing structure for your dog is also another important aspect. Dogs respect a leader and they thrive when they know what to expect out of life and what is expected of them. Also, watch out for them so that they learn they can trust you. I can hear it now, "of course I watch out for my dog", and I know you do, but what I am talking about here is learning your dogs behaviors and body language and looking out for them. If your dog is stressed or scared - help them. Whether it is removing them from the situation, or helping them work through a problem. They will learn they can trust you in all situations. If you can supply the basic needs and be a source of fun you will be well on your way to having a good bond with your dog. In short - be a person you dog WANTS to be around.
Training also should be fun! I am always incorporating training into our daily lives. Instead of 20 minutes of formal obedience practice we will do a couple of cues and then throw the ball and play fetch. There is also a time and place for practice and sometimes a more formal environment is crucial when learning new things, however formal does not need to mean less fun. Some things to watch for when training are tone of voice and body language. Keep your voice light, give lots of praise when they do something good, and try adding a bounce to your step. These seemingly small things can completely turn a training session around.
All in all, simply enjoy your dog. Have fun together. Be someone that your dog wants to be around and likes to work for. Bonding with your dogs doesn't have to be hard and by having a good bond you are on the right track to building better engagement which is crucial to training, but that is a topic for another day!
Have a great week everyone! Get out and have some fun with your dogs!