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Rules without Relationship Create Rebellion in Dogs

Rules without Relationship Create Rebellion in Dogs

german Shepherd and ownwer
Cecilia Martinez with Waiko

Greetings to all dog enthusiasts, prospective puppy buyers, dedicated owners, and skilled handlers,

I'm Cecilia the face, heart and soul behind VD Southernwind, and we've been passionately involved in the world of German Shepherds for many years. Our journey has not only been about breeding these magnificent creatures but also about understanding their deep emotional and psychological needs. We've noticed a recurring theme in the doubts and concerns you bring to us: the balance between setting rules and building relationships with your dogs.

Many of you have expressed uncertainty about how to implement rules effectively without causing a rift in the bond you share with your dog. We often hear questions like, "If I'm too strict, will my dog still love me?" or "How do I maintain discipline without damaging our relationship?" These are valid concerns, and we want to address them head-on.

DSWK Malinois with Bebo Santana
Bebo Santana starting Puppy bonding with his Malinois

At Southernwind, we firmly believe in the principle that "Rules without Relationship Create Rebellion in Dogs." This philosophy is at the heart of our approach to dog training and care. We understand that a dog, especially a breed as intelligent and sensitive as the German Shepherd, requires a delicate balance of guidance, discipline, and affection.

Our experiences have shown us that rules are essential for a dog’s well-being and safety. They provide structure and predictability, which dogs inherently crave. However, these rules need to be built on a foundation of trust and mutual respect. Without a solid relationship, rules can lead to frustration, fear, and even rebellion in dogs.

We want to share our insights and experiences with you to help you navigate this complex but rewarding journey. Whether you're bringing home a new puppy, grappling with training challenges, or seeking to deepen your bond with your German Shepherd, we're here to guide you through it all.

Let's embark on this journey together, blending discipline with love, to raise well-adjusted, happy, and obedient German Shepherds.

Southernwind Kennels.

dog's indifferent posture and expression.
German Shepherd showing a disinterested attitude while sitting with its back towards a person. the focus is on the dog's indifferent posture and expression.

Dogs are known for their loyalty and obedience, but sometimes they exhibit rebellious behavior that can be puzzling to their owners. One common reason for this rebellion is the absence of a strong bond and relationship between the dog and its owner. Dogs need more than just rules and boundaries; they need a deep connection with their human companions. In this article, we will explore why rules without a solid relationship can lead to rebellion in dogs.

1. Understanding the Canine Nature:

Dogs are social animals that thrive on companionship and pack dynamics. They have an innate need to form strong bonds with their pack members, including their human owners. Without a solid relationship, dogs may feel isolated, which can lead to frustration and rebellious behavior.

A heartwarming scene showing a strong bond between a German Shepherd and its owner
A heartwarming scene showing a strong bond between a German Shepherd and its owner

2. Lack of Trust and Respect:

A Dogs need to trust that their owners will provide for their needs and keep them safe. When dogs feel neglected or ignored, they may start to challenge the rules and boundaries set by their owners as a way to gain attention or assert their independence.

3. Communication Breakdown:

Effective communication is essential in any relationship, including the one between a dog and its owner. Dogs rely heavily on non-verbal cues and body language to understand and interpret human commands. If there is a lack of clear and consistent communication, dogs may become confused and frustrated, leading to rebellious behaviors.

Owner and her German Shepherd
Natalia and her German Shepherd

4. Emotional Needs:

Dogs have emotional needs that go beyond basic physical care. They need love, affection, and emotional support from their owners. When these needs are not met, dogs may seek attention in negative ways, such as destructive chewing, excessive barking, or even aggression.

5. Training with Balance

Balanced training in the context of dog training, particularly for intelligent and versatile breeds like German Shepherds, refers to a training philosophy that incorporates a mix of positive reinforcement and corrective measures to guide a dog's behavior. This method strives to find a balance between rewarding desired behaviors and correcting unwanted ones.

  • Positive Reinforcement: This is a cornerstone of modern dog training, where good behavior is rewarded. Rewards can be treats, praise, play, or anything the dog finds enjoyable. For instance, when a German Shepherd sits on command, it receives a treat. This method reinforces the behavior you want to see, making it more likely to be repeated.

  • Corrective Measures: Balanced training also involves the use of corrections to discourage undesirable behavior. However, it's crucial to understand that corrections in a balanced training context are not about punishment or causing discomfort. Instead, they are gentle, firm reminders that a certain behavior is unacceptable. For example, a light tug on the leash to stop a German Shepherd from pulling or a firm "No" when it jumps on people.

  • Understanding the Dog: A key aspect of balanced training is understanding the individual dog’s personality, learning style, and motivation. German Shepherds are known for their intelligence and eagerness to please, making them highly trainable. They respond well to both positive reinforcement and fair, consistent corrections.

  • Consistency and Fairness: Consistency is vital in balanced training. Dogs thrive on predictable outcomes. If a behavior is rewarded one day and corrected the next, it confuses them. Being fair is also crucial. This means not correcting a dog for a behavior it hasn't been taught is wrong or hasn't learned to control.

  • Building a Relationship: Balanced training is not just about obedience; it’s about building a trusting and respectful relationship between the dog and its owner. It’s about communication and understanding, creating a bond where the dog respects and understands its boundaries while feeling safe and motivated.

  • Adaptability: Since every dog is different, balanced training is adaptable. What works for one German Shepherd may not work for another. Some may respond better to more positive reinforcement, while others need firmer corrections.

  • Remember, while balanced training is a widely accepted approach, it's important to adapt your training style to suit your dog's individual needs. Always keep in mind that training should be a positive, enriching experience for your dog. If you're ever in doubt or if your dog exhibits problematic behaviors, consulting a professional dog trainer or a veterinarian specializing in animal behavior can be very beneficial.

Owner with his Black German Shepherd
Ken and his Black German Shepherd Virgil

6. Building a Strong Relationship:

To prevent rebellion in dogs, it is crucial to invest time and effort in building a strong relationship. Spend quality time with your dog, engage in activities that they enjoy, and provide plenty of physical and mental stimulation. Regular training sessions can also strengthen the bond and establish clear communication channels.


Remember, Rules without a solid relationship can create rebellion in dogs. Dogs thrive in environments where they feel loved, understood, and respected. By building a strong bond and investing time and effort into understanding their needs, owners can prevent rebellious behavior and foster a harmonious relationship with their canine companions. Remember, a well-behaved dog is not just a result of strict rules, but also a reflection of a strong and loving relationship.

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