Friend or Foe? Understanding Dog Freindships

When us humans choose friends we usually gravitate towards those with similar interests and personalities as ourselves, since these similarities make it easier to start and build a friendship. But some people just won’t get along. It’s just one of those facts of life; you won’t be friends with everyone.


the gang


Does the same go for dogs?  We know our dogs won’t always like every dog they meet, but how do they choose who they want to get close to and who they want to stay far away from?


friends share, usually


When it comes to canine communication, the vast majority of it is unspoken. They analyze each other’s body language and any olfactory clues. From this, dogs can quickly determine whether they consider this new dog a friend or foe. If your dog encounters another dog and the first thing they notice is a rigid body, raised tail, and barred teeth, there’s a good chance your dog will not want to be friends.


hangin’ out with the friends


But body language and smell aren’t the only way that dogs determine who their friends are. They also can make friendship decisions based on their past experiences. A negative past experience with a particular type of dog can spread beyond just that type of dog to include any dog that has a similar smell or body language.


playing nice


Just like you can’t expect to like everyone you meet, you can’t expect your dog to either. However, understanding how your dog makes friends will allow you expose them to situations where they can have the best possible chance of forming friendships.


Lucky In Dog Training

Lucky Opportunities

When I show people my dog’s repertoire of dog tricks they often say how lucky I am that she know so many. “Luck”…is it really “luck”? I’m not sure there is such a thing as “luck”. “Preparation meets opportunity”, that’s my definition of luck. Success isn’t attributed to luck. “Luck” undermines all the hard work, all the planning, all the thought, all the time spent.

I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. – Thomas Jefferson

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. – Vidal Sassoon



Lucky Failures

Training a dog to do just about anything takes time and patience. Success in dog training is not always easy. Whether it’s her lack of understanding of what I’m trying to teach or my lack of ability to be able to teach her, not every training session is successful. And that’s ok. Failures are feedback to what we need to focus on, on where we need to go, or grow and succeed.

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. — Francis of Assisi

Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston S. Churchill



Lucky Success

Our success is based on a lot of hard work, remaining humble, and knowing that our relationship is critical to our success. Or should I say critical to looking like we’re “just lucky”?

I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.- Estée Lauder

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you. – Oprah Winfrey

The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do. -Unknown



Lucky For Others

Maybe Matilda and I can inspire other ‘teams’ to their own success where it isn’t just luck but meeting every opportunity fully prepared.

Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life; it’s about what you inspire others to do. – Unknown


Dog Training: What I Think I Know

I am no professional but there are a few things I truly believe when it comes to training my dog.

The desire to learn: Before we ever start a training session, I’m looking for focus. A distracted dog by doesn’t learn much so I need her to give me her attention before we can start training. A quick game of tug usually does the trick for Matti.

Short training sessions are golden: I mean really short sessions. Like 3 to 5 minutes short. There is so much more learned in a couple short sessions broken up with a good game of tug than in one long session. If my dog seems to be losing interest in our training then I know it’s time to stop and go play. There’s nothing wrong with taking a step away from our training to go and have a little fun.


4 paws in a box


Watch what you reward: I always remind myself that what I reward, is what I get. I admit I have made the mistake of rewarding a beautiful sit. But that sit was accompanied by a bark. Needless to say, I ended up with a dog that had a gorgeous sit, but barked when she did it.


the spiderman


Every day is not perfect: The biggest thing I try to remember is that dogs go through learning curves. One day it seems as if she has mastered a behaviour, the next week she acts like she’s never done that behaviour before. Different distractions, my body language or mood, etc., can affect her learning curve. I have no problem going back to basics or just taking a break. It happens. I find no reason to get frustrated.


a little game of ‘it’s your choice’

It’s my responsibility: Finally, I know I need to take full responsibility for my role in Matilda’s training. I have heard it many, many times and wish I knew where I heard it first, but it’s one of my mantras and I repeat it to anyone who asks my advice on training their dog…”our dogs are only reflections of our abilities as dog trainers”.