Posted by: Linda Trunell | September 29, 2013

A Joyful Dog is a Dog Who Feels Safe

“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish – consciously or unconsciously – that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.” ― Dean Koontz, A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog

I often say to my students that dogs need to feel safe.  Feeling safe is not living in fear.  What If you feared the person you depended on for everything?  Our dogs depend on us for food, water, shelter, medical care, companionship and affection.  How could you find joy in any of these things if you feared the giver?

If you are using fear or intimidation to train your dog, please think about what you are doing to your relationship.  There is no need to be the “pack leader” or the “alpha”.  Believe me, your dog is not trying to dominate you and your family.  There is no need to use force or fear to teach your dog the behaviors you want, so why do it?  Learn about positive reinforcement and force/fear free training.  Be a loving guardian – not a bully or a scary tyrant who yells or pushes or intimidates your dog.

Nicole Wilde

“Many dogs come into the world with an open and trusting attitude, only to have an experience or series of experiences that cause them to become suspicious of people. Maybe someone is heavy-handed when doling out punishment; or, perhaps the owner is unpredictable from the dog’s point of view, and lashes out in anger. The dog becomes wary of the owner, and develops a fear of doing the wrong thing. The dog is now afraid to offer any sort of behavior, or even to respond when asked to do something, for fear that their response will be wrong and they’ll be punished.”

– Nicole Wilde From Learned Helplessness to Learned Joyfulness

Violence begins where knowledge ends – Abraham Lincoln

Here’s to being our dog’s best friend,



  1. Excellent points! Unless our dogs at The Ranch are confident, (feeling safe being a component of confidence), we are not doing our job.


    • Absolutely! A confident dog is a dog who can trust. I want my dog to trust me and not fear me. 🙂


  2. What a stunning post Linda. All true! Thanks for sharing hon. 😀 *big hugs*


    • Thanks, Sonel! *big hugs* right back to you and your little man, Simba 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks hon. Simba sends lots of wet kisses. We just had our first cup of coffee for the morning. 😆 Have a great day. 😀


  3. I’ve never liked the theory of us “becoming the alpha male” and using fear. Dogs are our family members, we wouldn’t do it to our children! Great post 🙂


    • Thank you for your comment. (Sorry to be so late to reply – I somehow missed it.) I feel the same way.


  4. I love the idea of being your dog’s guardian rather than leader. What an insightful post. Thanks Linda


    • Thank you, dog friendly hotels. I know YOU value the human/canine bond! 🙂



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