Dogs are known as man’s best friend for a reason. They are incredibly loving, loyal animals who just want to be around us to share our lives. That’s why bonding with your dog is easy.
If you're reading this because you’re new to dog ownership, congratulations! Perhaps you’ve just got a puppy, or have freed a canine companion from a rescue center. Whatever the reason, building a strong, bonding relationship with your dog is worthwhile and rewarding.
What exactly can you do to ensure you are bonding with your dog? Well, there are a number of things. First up, let’s look at companionship.
COMPANIONSHIP AND TIME
Building a strong relationship with a dog is no different to building one with another human being. Would you expect someone you spend very little time with to become your best friend? No, of course, you wouldn’t. To grow a relationship, you need to spend lots of time together bonding. How else are you going to get to know one another’s likes, dislikes, personality and quirks? Bonding with your dog takes the same commitment. Remember too, dogs are naturally pack animals. They’re used to living in groups with a fixed hierarchy where they do everything together. You and your family are now your dog’s pack. He will naturally want to be with you.
Small things make a huge difference. When you first see your dog each morning, or when you come home, make a huge fuss of him. It only takes a few seconds, cements your bond and makes you both feel loved.
You don’t have to entertain your dog. He will just be happy being with you.
Dogs need regular daily exercise to keep them fit and healthy. When you take them out on their daily walks, play with them, fuss them. Get dog toys for them to run after and fetch in the park. Before you know it you’ll be bonding with your dog. We don’t often get the chance to let out our inner child and this is a perfect opportunity for you both to have fun.
Provide toys for him to chew and play with at home so he isn’t tempted to chew your furniture.
All dogs benefit from a daily brush. For some dogs, it’s essential to avoid knots and matting. This won’t only keep your dog looking great, it will also strengthen the bonding with your dog.
It need only take 5 to 10 minutes a day. Talk to your dog, stroke him as you groom him. Make sure he feels safe and relaxed, not stressed. If someone pulled your hair out by the roots, would you kiss them or bite them? I know what I’d do! So, ensure you use the right brushes for the type of fur your dog has. That way his coat isn’t pulled painfully and you will both have a pleasant bonding time.
TRAINING & COMMUNICATION
Dog owners that take time for training not only have the best-behaved dogs, but also the strongest relationships. Dogs can learn to understand a limited vocabulary of words. Which is why it’s important to consistently use the same keywords. They are really good at understanding signals too.
Join a dog training class to help to promote bonding with your dog. Not only will your dog get good training, but you will too. Your instructor will teach you to use voice commands and hand signals. Training should only ever be done using positive re-enforcement. It’s better to reward him when he does something right than to punish him for doing something wrong. That way he’ll always want to please you.
If you can’t go to dog training classes, you can buy DVDs or books to guide you through training techniques to try at home.
Food is king when it comes to pleasure for a dog. You can use this to your advantage. If you feed him right, he’ll love you for it.
Remember, they’re pack animals and the alpha (pack leader), always gets to eat first. YOU are the pack leader, not your dog. In order to prevent possessiveness over food, it’s a good idea to put some rules in place. Try to feed your dog at the same time each day, a routine is good. When you put the food down, make him sit and wait until you say he can go and eat it. This maintains respect and ensures he sees you as top dog.
Don’t be tempted to feed your dog from your own plate at mealtimes. It can confuse boundaries and make dogs snappy. I have seen a child bitten in the face by a dog because of this. The dog saw the child as competition for the “treats” it was being given from its owner’s plate, so it bit the child as a warning to stay away. There is no such thing as a bad dog, only a bad owner.
My best advice? Love your dog and he’ll love you.
Want to know more about puppy training? Check out our E-Book with 10 Tips to Train Your Puppy from 8 Weeks On!