Five Secrets to Becoming Dog’s Best Friend

Lately, my dog has been teaching me a new trick. Thank goodness, Sydney thinks I’m still teachable.

This past week he started yipping at his breakfast. That’s right, he takes a few bites. And just when I sit down to eat mine (I know some people think you must wait to feed your dog. That he must eat only, after you, his great and powerful pack leader has eaten). Yes, the caveman school of dog training still has holdouts.

But dogs know us better. There are times that they know us better than we know ourselves. They watch. They wait. They pick their moments.

If dogs had a sense of humor, I think they would laugh at this old notion, of “I am your alpha dog, don’t you dare not kowtow to me.”

“Down with Dominance” by Patricia B. McConnell, PhD. she asks, “Are we really still talking about this? Really?” As a respected dog expert, she wonders why this misguided idea could be an ongoing point of discussion.  Bark magazine’s September/October Issue. Check out The Bark online.  They also have a blog and a large dog community.

I am not saying your dog should run your household—not at all.

You make the rules and you insist on what behavior you encourage. There is no need to lord it over a dog. He knows you control the resources. He can’t go to a store, pick out and pay for his own food. He can’t open the door.

He can’t make you take him for a walk. Well, maybe he can do that. Does your dog make you take him?

“Properly trained, a man can be dog’s best friend.” ~ Corey Ford

Sydney on his favorite trail.

So now my usually compliant at breakfast dog, makes me get up from mine. Something is bugging him about his food. Yes, I switched his breakfast temporarily. A little canned chicken until he gets his bad teeth extracted.

Sydney licks up some of his soupy meat. Then he jumps back from the bowl, does a little play-bow as if asking it to please dance. Then he barks. A high-pitched yelp.

I have to give him praise for sticking to it. He keeps at this routine until I get up from the table and use my marvelous human hands to hold his little dish. I am mystified. What’s with barking at his food? But holding the dish does seem to do the trick. It must be what I need to learn.

Yes, I’ve tried swapping his dish from lightweight metal to heavy ceramic. He never did this song and dance act for his kibble. Yet Sydney gives me this same bark when a piece of kibble rolls underneath a table when we play “Find It.”

He barks to tell me, “Fix this, Mom.” or “Go get it.”

Five, Not So Secret, Tips

  1. Feed your dog food that keeps him healthy. One that he digests well.
  2. Watch your dog. You want to know what his usual behaviors are.
  3. Be ready to play.
  4. Be willing to laugh at yourself.
  5. Take him to the park because he wants you to meet new friends.

To fetch one of my first posts, Dog Leaders Play, click here.

Ready, set. Go play.

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