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Every dog owner wants to have a strong bond with their dog, and often think that loving their dog is the same thing as bonding with their dog. Both are distinct parts of the human-dog relationship. The love between you and your dog develops naturally, whereas having a bond with your dog takes time and effort to develop.
Developing a bond with your dog begins as soon as you bring your dog home, and it continues to grow over time. Every relationship takes work, and there are ways that you can strengthen that bond throughout your dogs life. Read on to discover the 11 tips for bonding with your dog.
1. Spend Some Quality Time Together
Strong bonds don’t happen overnight, they take time to build. Spending quality time with your dog is a great way to share experiences that will strengthen your relationship.
Time spent together includes exercising together, and relaxing together. When you walk your dog, take the time to explore together and enjoy the fresh air and surroundings. Instead of making the walk feel like a chore, with you talking on your phone, interact with your dog and enjoy the experience together.
If you always stick to the same walking route, try changing it up to prevent your dog or yourself from getting bored.
Just hanging out with your dog will strengthen your bond. It doesn’t always have to be a physical activity, it can just be relaxing together on the couch.
By spending time with your dog, you will build trust, confidence and love.
2. Join In On Playtime
All dogs love to play, and they enjoy playtime even more when it’s with their best friend, you! When it comes to playtime, don’t just toss a tennis ball out in the yard and expect your dog to entertain himself. Join in on the fun.
Playing games with your dog and having fun will strengthen your relationship and build a better bond. Make sure to play games that your dog enjoys. Some suggestions are tug-of-war, fetch, hide-and-seek, and puzzle games. By joining in on the playtime, your dog will see you as fun to be around, and will want to spend more time with you.
3. Be The Hand That Feeds Your Dog
As the saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well the same can be said about dogs. Feeding your dog healthy, and nutritious food, that your dog truly enjoys will make your dog happier and healthier, and if all the food comes from you, your bond will strengthen.
Don’t just free feed your dog by leaving a bowl of kibble out all day for your dog to eat from whenever he likes. Make mealtime a time for training, by feeding some of his food by hand. Not only will hand feeding slow your dog down from eating too fast, but your dog will see you as a provider of all good things.
4. It’s All About The Eye Contact
A simple but powerful way to bond with your dog is through eye contact. Teaching your dog to make eye contact with you is one of the best ways to get your dogs attention, and for your dog to focus on you. By getting your dog to make eye contact with you, it will make communication and training easier with your dog.
Eye contact with your dog is great for training, but it is also helping to build a strong relationship. When you and your dog lock eyes with each other, it releases a feel good hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is often referred to as the love hormone, and it is associated with feelings of trust, and plays a role in bonding.
5. Be Consistent With Training
Training your dog is a great way to bond. Whether you’re teaching your dog some new tricks, or working on mastering basic obedience skills, you should always implement some training into your dogs daily routine.
Dogs love having a job to do, and that can be simple things like getting your dog to sit or give paw before you give him his food, or getting your dog to sit before you cross the street on your walks.
Being consistent with your training and house rules will establish trust and respect. Your dog will learn what behaviors are expected of him and what is not okay. Make sure everyone in your household is on the same page with the rules. If your husband allows your dog on the furniture, but you scold your dog for it, your dog will become confused and won’t know who to listen to, and will lose respect for you.
6. Know What Your Dog Likes & Dislikes
Each dog has their own unique personality. The more time you spend with your dog the more you will learn about what your dog likes and dislikes.
If your dog prefers to have his own space to rest instead of cuddling up next to you, you need to respect that. Some dogs enjoy cuddling while others prefer space. Some dogs love to play tug of war, while others would rather chase a ball.
Just like humans, dogs like and dislike certain things, as well as other dogs, and people too. I’m sure you would rather have your teeth pulled than to spend the day with someone that you can’t stand, well the same goes for your dog. Some dogs just aren’t compatible with each other, and you should never force your dog to play or hang out with another dog that he doesn’t like.
There are many things that you may assume that your dog likes, when in all reality your dog may just be tolerating it. For instance, you may love giving your dog hugs, or putting clothes on your dog. That’s fine if your dog likes that, but some dogs barely tolerate or dislike that all together.
By paying close attention to how your dog responds to certain things and situations, you will learn what your dog likes and doesn’t like. You may find that your dog hates being hugged, but really enjoys belly rubs, so why not swap out the hugs for something your dog enjoys.
By knowing your dogs individual likes and dislikes, and respecting them, your dog will be able to trust you more, and your bond will strengthen.
7. Keep Your Cool
It’s so important to always remain calm and keep your cool around your dog. Even if you are having a bad day, you should never take out your frustrations on your dog. Yelling, screaming and getting angry will only scare your dog, even if the anger isn’t aimed at them.
Dogs can pick up on our emotions and can sense when we are angry, or sad. By losing your temper, your dog will feel uneasy too, and your relationship will weaken because your dog will feel like he can’t rely on you.
8. Show Your Dog Some Love
Your dog has his own ways of showing you that he loves you, some of which are subtle, and some are just plain obvious like giving you a big greeting when you come home. So, make sure you let your dog know how much you love him.
Show your love by doing things that your dog enjoys. Give your dog some belly rubs, play his favorite game, take him to the park, or spoil him with his favorite treats, or food.
9. Speak Your Dog’s Language
No, I don’t actually mean bark at your dog, but be aware of your dogs body language. Dog’s can’t speak to us and tell us how they are feeling, but their body language can tell us so much.
The position of your dogs tail, the way it’s wagging, the direction of his ears, and the look in his eyes, almost every part of your dogs body is a sign of what he’s feeling or thinking.
By understanding your dogs body language, you will be able to tell when your dog is happy, feeling frightened or anxious. You will be able to identify your dogs signals of when he is scared, and it will be easier for you to protect your dog or avoid situations that make your dog uncomfortable.
Your bond will be stronger, because your dog will be able to count on you and trust you to keep him safe.
10. Be Hands On
Physical contact with your dog creates a stronger bond. Some dogs thrive on physical contact, touching and petting your dog will not only help to lower your stress, but it’s a great way to lower stress levels in your pooch.
Grooming your dog is a great bonding experience. Your dog will love the one on one time with you, and all the attention he is getting. Certain parts of grooming makes dogs feel uncomfortable, and they just don’t like it, such as nail trimming, having a bath, and ear cleaning, those things probably won’t lower the stress levels in your dog, but brushing is something most dogs enjoy.
11. Keep Things Exciting
Dogs love to be on a schedule and follow a routine every day, it makes them feel safe and secure. They love the security of being walked, and fed at the same time every day. So how does messing with their routine create a stronger bond?
By doing different things now and then, you will keep things exciting for your dog. Your dog will learn to focus on you and learn that he has to be in tune to you.
Doing different things with your dog doesn’t have to happen all the time, but just adding a bit of surprise now and then is a good thing. You could go on a road trip together, explore a new neighborhood to walk, surprise your dog with a new toy, or give your dog a new treat that he’s never tried before.
Having a bond with your dog grows stronger over time, and is essentially the glue that holds your relationship together. The bond you share with your dog should be based on mutual respect, trust, and understanding.
To deepen your relationship and feel more connected with your dog it is important to put in the effort and time that it takes. Bonding is all about spending time together, sharing new experiences, playing together, understanding each other, and letting your dog know how much he means to you.
By following the above mentioned tips for bonding with your dog, you and your dog will share a close connection and truly be best friends.
Do you have any tips for bonding with your dog? Share your thoughts in the comments below.