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Building a Strong Bond With Your Dog Through Training

Updated: May 30, 2023


Humans and dogs have a special connection. And it makes sense: Evidence shows that dogs have been domesticated for over 30,000 years (more than 10,000 years longer than horses). And, many of the capabilities and characteristics they have developed during that time are aligned with human behaviors.

Unfortunately, directly communicating with humans is not one of those capabilities. As much as we might wish that dogs could talk with us and tell us what they’re thinking and feeling, that just isn’t realistic.

Luckily, there are ways we can establish clear communication with our pups, strengthen our bonds with them, and help them to live fulfilled, safe, and successful lives. And one of the most foundational? Training.

When done in a consistent, clear, and kind manner, training allows us to communicate with our dogs and to strengthen our connection with them. It is, perhaps, one of the most critical pieces of dog ownership (and, unfortunately, one that often goes overlooked until problems arise). Today, we’re digging into the basics of dog training: why it matters, how it strengthens your bond with your dog, and how to get started.

Why Dog Training Is Important

Real talk: Many dog owners don’t start training until challenging behaviors arise.

Whether it’s because their childhood dog never received training and was a great dog, because they’ve heard the saying “let dogs be dogs,” or because of how dog ownership is portrayed in popular media (Perfect from the start! No training necessary!), many have the misconception that most dogs will thrive without training.

This is not the case. All dogs benefit from training, and most need some form of training to help them live their best lives.

Much like humans tend to thrive when they understand systems and rules, so too do dogs. Training allows dogs to understand what is and is not appropriate, keeps them safe, and provides them with structure. By training with your dog from the day you bring them home, you can help set them up for success and prevent problematic behaviors from arising in the future.

Not only that—training also provides necessary stimulation that can help meet your dog’s mental, physical, and social needs. And it helps you build a strong bond with your dog by fostering trust and connection.

Establishing Clear Communication Through Training

Much like humans use language to communicate with one another, owners can establish clear communication patterns with their dogs through training. And, when done consistently, it shows a dog that their owner can be trusted and counted upon.

Let’s examine two scenarios that show how training serves as a form of communication:

In the first scenario, an owner brings their new pup home. The pup is allowed to freely roam the house, and quickly finds a pair of shoes to chew on. The owner finds the shoes a few hours later and is upset. They shake the shoes in their new pup’s face and yell “NO!” at them repeatedly. The pup does not understand “No,” nor do they make the connection between the yelling and their earlier mishap. All they learn from this is sometimes their owner gets angry and yells, and it makes them feel afraid.

In the second scenario, an owner brings their new pup home but keeps a leash on them at all times. When they see their pup approach a pair of shoes and try to chew on them, the owner gently tugs on the leash, says “leave it,” and presents a toy when the pup leaves the shoes. Over time, the pup learns that leash pressure means their owner wants them to go in a specific direction, and that “leave it” means just that—to let something be.

In our second scenario, the owner is establishing clear patterns of communication with their pup that they will be able to use for years to come. They’re also showing that they are consistent, and that there’s no reason for their pup to be scared, frightened, or uncertain around them. Over time, this will help further build trust and strengthen the bond between dog and owner.

The Power of Consistency in Dog Training

We hope, by now, you can tell that we’re huge supporters of dog training. 10/10, very good, highly recommended. But, there’s one big caveat that goes along with it: To reap the benefits of training, you must be consistent.

If you only occasionally use commands, don’t follow through with rewards or corrections, and sometimes yell instead, your dog will struggle to understand what you want from them. Not to mention, this inconsistency will make their life less predictable, making it more difficult for them to trust you. But, if you are calm and consistent when giving commands, rewards, and corrections the majority of the time, your dog will understand what you’re trying to communicate to them. Over time, you’ll establish clear pathways of communication, as well as strengthen the emotional bond you have with your dog by fostering trust.

Next Steps: Building a Strong Bond With Your Dog Through Training

“That’s great,” some owners might say. “But where do I even begin?”

There are tons of different methodologies and tools you can use for training, and different things work for different human/dog duos. It can be overwhelming to know where to start.

One great first step is deciding how you’ll “pay” or reward your dog for completing the work you give them during training. Our recommendation? Choose a word you can use every time your dog successfully follows a command or completes a task (we’re a big fan of GOOD). Some people like to use a clicker (an analog button that, when pushed, makes an audible "click!") instead of a word. We don't recommend clickers simply because it's just another item to remember to bring with you when you leave the house: Forgetting a poop bag is bad enough—imagine leaving your dog's method of payment at home! Regardless of whether you use a word or a clicker, the act of rewarding with proper timing is called "marker training" or "marking.”

Then, set aside five to ten minutes each day to train. Each time your dog successfully completes a task you give them, reinforce it by telling them GOOD and praising them. Over time, you can extend the length of your training sessions and/or incorporate these commands throughout your day. Just by reinforcing positive behavior with a reward word, you’re starting to build a clear system of communication with your dog that will provide a foundation for their training for years to come.


If you’re looking for even more insights on how to train your dog—specifically, if they're a puppy—check out our puppy guide. In it, we cover 17 basic commands and go through exactly how to teach them.

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