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The Six Connection Principles: How to Connect With Your Dog on a Deeper Level

We, as humans, have a tendency to make up a LOT of stories about everything in our lives, including our dogs! These stories (our thoughts and beliefs) whether they are accurate or not, have the power to impact our behavior. And, we know that our behavior impacts our dog's behavior (and vice versa!). So if we're ONLY operating from our stories or assumptions instead of getting curious and exploring other possibilities, we may be believing in something that is not accurate.

When you get curious about how to connect with your dog on a deeper level, you can practice observing and shifting your thoughts and behavior patterns with your dog. And the human-canine bond has the possibility of including more connection. 

Building a relationship with you AND your dog is important to me

My Six Connection Principles are so important to the dog training and behavior modification process. I use these principles as a framework when developing relationships with both you AND your dog. They are my core values when working with my clients. They can help you discover how to connect with your dog on a deeper level.

The Six Connection Principles invite everyone to explore the world through a fresh lens. As we work together, I will reference and demonstrate the principles to support the training process and your relationship with your dog. 

Check out my story with Sully!

He changed my life

Watch my 5-minute Ignite Talk and learn how Sully changed my life and where the Connection Principles were born!

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How to Connect With Your Dog on a Deeper Level in 6 Steps


A brown and white pitbull stands in water

Stop and observe.

Environmental conditions play a big role in both human and canine behavior. Internal conditions can be thoughts and emotions, while external conditions are the experiences you and your dog have. In order to modify your dog’s behavior, we must look at all these conditions for both the dog and more importantly, ourselves.

puppy lying down chewing stick

We all have needs.

It’s essential to recognize and consider everyone's needs in the relationship when exploring how to connect with your dog on a deeper level. Most behavior concerns are a result of an unmet need. Enrichment and physical stimulation are some of the most important outlets you can provide your dog. You also have needs in this relationship. What are they?

dog lying down in field, advocating for everyone

Setting up conditions for success.

Once you have identified everyone's needs, it's important to advocate for them. That may be asking a stranger to give your dog space, choosing to take breaks during nail trims, or making sure you're adding more positive experiences to the relationship trust account instead of negative experiences.

black and white dog smiling, rewarding your dog often

Click and treat!

We're wired to notice the negative. And, when we do, we react to the situation instead of utilizing prevention. Noticing the good choices you and your dog are already making is critical to the dog behavior modification process since it provides you with many opportunities to reinforce desired behaviors. It's an opportunity for us to celebrate the small wins during this process.

black and white dog lying down, getting curious

Is it true?

Curiosity is essential during the dog behavior modification process. It allows us the opportunity to look at the situation from different perspectives. When we hit roadblocks, we always ask questions to prevent assumptions and to make sure everyone's perspective is included. This skill allows for empathy and connection in the process and the relationship.

black dog in the woods, observing mindset

Different language, different results.

It's critical to notice the lens that we're looking at our dogs through. If we want to enhance the human-canine bond, we need to get curious about whether the language we're using is accurate, and offer the dog (and ourselves) the benefit of the doubt.

Enhance the human-canine bond through positive dog training.

Want to learn more about improving your dog’s behavior and enhancing your relationship? Explore The Connection Summit, our online dog training mini-course.