Wellness is Wealth –

Nurturing the Bond with Your Furry Friend

Communication is a two-way street. If you wish your pet understands you, then you too need to understand what your pet is trying to tell you. Wellness is the biggest wealth for your pets. Find out more about it!
–by Karan Shah

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In the doggy world, everyone would have a different definition of ‘wellness is wealth’ depending in the field they are working in. For a trainer and behaviourist like me, I would define it as having a healthy relationship with your pet and understanding what your pooch is trying to tell you.

Dogs understand and response to three things – human voice tone, facial expressions, and body language. I have dealt with hundreds of cases where the human wants their pet to behave in a particular manner or do something which is not really necessary, and this is what I usually tell them you need to understand what your pet is trying to say to develop a better bond.

Bond of love & life

There are several ways to develop a good bond with your pet. One of the best methods is positive training. Train your pet using only positive methods which are reward based and positive reinforcement. There are many trainers who still use negative methods like choke chains, hitting etc. but with this we are creating a gap between the pet and you. The difference is that with positive training and reinforcement the pet learns to listen to us out of fun, love, and compassion whereas in negative methods your pet would listen to you but out of fear which one day will hit back for sure.

Love is what makes your pet dance when you come home at the end of the day, while the bond is what keeps him/her from taking off without you when the front door opens. A strong bond forms the foundation of your entire relationship with your pet and you should nurture it.

When we look at human-dog relationships what we tend to see in nearly every case, is a series of ‘human-created bond infractions’ that have picked away at the strength of the relationship between pet and pet-parent. Some are major, such as physical punishment or not providing enough exercise, while others are more difficult to pinpoint—a lack of confidence or an unwillingness to have fun with the pup. Basic training certainly can improve these spark-less relationships, but using positive methods only.


Work in progress – furry fond bonds

It is essential to know whether our bond with our fur babies is strong or weak. This would help you out. These are signs that indicate that your bond is weak and needs to be worked upon –

  • Emotional indifference to you or others in the family. A failure to respond to commands, especially the recall command
  • A lack of desire to play
  • A distaste for being handled
  • Regular attempts to run off
  • Poor focus and eye contact
  • Belligerence or even outright aggression toward you
  • Depression or lethargic behaviour
  • These signs show that you have a strong bond and can lead by example –
  • Keeping tabs on your location when they are off leash
  • Frequently checking in to see where you’re at
  • Performing obedience happily without hesitation
  • Making a great effort to find you when you play hide-and-seek
  • A high level of focus on you, evidenced by frequently looking at you
  • Strong ability to communicate needs, wants, and concerns. (Do you understand what your dog wants in almost any given situation?)
  • Love for physical interaction
  • Once taught ‘Come’, the dog always responds, even when distracted. (This one is tricky even for well-bonded dogs. If you’ve got this down even in the most distracting of circumstances, congratulations!)
  • At the same time, the dog is independent without your presence, note, healthy relation doesn’t mean the dog should have separation anxiety.

Once you have a good understanding with your pet, you learn so many things like mutual respect, empathy, friendship, compassion, making sacrifices, non-verbal communication, patience, dedication, and most importantly unconditional love. And that is what I would call ‘wellness is wealth’.

(Karan Shah is a certified canine behaviourist and trainer, who specialises in canine training, behaviour, aggression, therapy, and assist dog training, and he is founder of Pawsitivve Future and an alumni of Shirin Merchant Institute.)