Behavior & Training
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9 Ways to Improve your Relationship with your Dog


9. Touch your dog. There is strong evidence that physical contact such as grooming and petting lowers stress in shelter dogs, which is measured by reductions in both heart rate and the stress hormone cortisol as well as by an increase in the anti-stress hormone oxytocin. This has led researchers to believe that physical contact plays a role in enhancing the bond between people and dogs. Focusing on your relationship with your dog is arguably the most important aspect of living with a friend of the canine persuasion. After all, it’s not a desire to help the economy by spending money at the vet and the groomer or to ensure that our clothes are covered in fur that drives us to have dogs. Rather, we love dogs as friends and as family members, and being with them enhances our life in unique ways. It’s all about the relationship, which is worth improving no matter how magnificent it is already. 



This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 62: Nov/Dec 2010

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Noni | August 4 2013 |

Something to add to number 9... don't pet your dog too much if they don't seem receptive. Pay attention to your dog's body language. I have a Shiba/mix and Shibas are well-known for not liking to be pet too much. They like to be next to you and know where you are, but not necessarily touching you all the time. If you pet them too much, they'll get annoyed and walk away. This kind of goes hand and hand with paying attention to your dog's likes and dislikes. If they are not big into petting, a quick pet or scratch is enough (and that's mostly for human comfort).

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