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Love at First Sight

Author: Nicole Stewart | Date: April 10, 2013

Imagine this:


Open to an empty parking lot.

Two cars pull up with a space between them.

One car opens and a woman gets out, standing with a look of expectation.

The second car door opens.  A man gets out.  He goes to the back door and opens it.

A beautiful Pittie Mix comes out of the car, sees the woman and bolts over to her.

As the dog reaches the woman, she squats down, the dog rolls on his back encouraging a lovely belly rub from the woman.

Cut to a close-up of a tear running down the woman’s cheek.


Cut to woman sitting amidst room full of puppies. Some are jumping on her, some biting her shoelace, some are playing amongst themselves.

The woman feels a warm sensation on her ankle.

She looks down to see one of the puppies licking her ankle.

He looks up at her with almost human eyes.

She turns to her husband and says, “This is the one.”


Cut to a teenage boy walking slowly down a line of shelter cages.

He stops at a quiet dog looking eagerly at him.

He puts his hand up against the cage and the moment he does that, the dog rubs his side against the gate and the boy begins to pet him.


What story do all of these scenes tell?

They are the beginning of a relationship between dog and human.  It’s these kinds of scenes that happen all over the world daily and stories I hear from so many of my clients.  The relationship often begins with love at first sight. But that love at first sight can wane when a dog comes home and proceeds to be just what he is – a dog.

Remember the book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”?  It’s even more complicated with the human/dog relationship that attempts to match species.

The facts:

Dogs are dogs.

Humans are human.

(Thanks Nicole, for the riveting insight!)

Dogs think and act like dogs.

Humans think and act like people.

(Awesome, Capitan Obvious!)

Where it gets messy is that we bring them into our homes and can’t help but expect dogs to act partly human.  Not like this:

Dog Sweep


 Though that would be darn nice, I mean more like this:

Dog on Bed

In my opinion, the goal of any kind of training should always be to build and strengthen that bond that made someone want to bring that dog home with them. To do this, we learn to communicate with them via behaviors such as Sit, Down and Come.  People go to classes or bring a trainer to their home, but I believe that they are always trying to get back to that first moment when Cupid struck.

It’s probably not popular to say, but getting the perfect sit or the longest stay interests me less than being able to strengthen a bond between a client and their dog.  This is why I always teach setting a dog up for success and teaching them what we want the TO DO using positive methods.  I don’t know how many successful human relationships are built when each encounter is a negative experience.  We continue dating someone only when the last date left us wanting more, and we wanted to be with that person again.

A good canine/human relationship is built on trust, compassion, and seeing each other for who they are – a human and a dog.  When we expect a human to be a human and a dog to be a dog, there is a lot less disappointment than when we expect dogs to think and act like humans. So, straight up Sit, Down, Stay and Come are important because it starts a line of communication that allows for a relationship to develop.  In the end, the words matter less, and the learning how to live together positively is what books are written about.

What was your “love at first sight” moment with your dog?


    1. Julie says:

      Granted, Nicole is my daughter, so I think she is brilliant, but I had tears in my eyes reading this because it is what she does. She and her husband Art love their dog, Finlay, and they do expect no more from him than a dog can give to a dog/human relationship. They give so much to him by allowing him to be a dog. I have seen this in action and it is beautiful.

    2. […] you’ve read any of my other posts, you will know that I really believe that the most important aspect of dog training is building […]

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