So, does my dog know I love him?
The simple answer is yes. But bonding with your dog is on a whole different level. Sure, you already know that your dog will love you or already does, but have you managed to build a strong bond with one another? Dogs love snuggles, but dog bonding is what keeps your furry friend from walking out of that door.
How to Strengthen the Bond with Your Dog?
The best way to approach this is by thinking of your furry friend as your best friend and treating them the same way. That means every interaction with your puppy should be as seamless as the interaction between you and your best friend. With that in mind, here are a couple of tips you could use in your dog bonding process.
1. Building Trust
Hands down! Having the trust of your canine friend is one of the biggest honors we have as their caregivers. Unfortunately, even though dogs are known for their unconditional love, many factors could impact their ability to trust people, even their caregivers. Dogs start to trust you because they are not anxious or fearful around you or the environment. And to make all that possible, you can do the following:
- 𝐻𝑎𝑛𝑑-𝑓𝑒𝑒𝑑 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑑𝑜𝑔: hand feeding your dog teaches the little fellow that when you lean forward, good things happen. It also teaches your pooch to focus on you because you will feed them.
- 𝑆ℎ𝑜𝑤 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑑𝑜𝑔 𝑎𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑: dogs typically get anxious when they are introduced to new places. And, when you do it right, your dog will learn to trust you during those anxious periods. That said, show your dog around and ensure you are always there to help the little fella out of that fear or stressful moment.
- 𝑈𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑔’𝑠 𝑏𝑜𝑑𝑦 𝑙𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑢𝑎𝑔𝑒: undoubtedly, dogs are constantly communicating with us. But we are not always keen enough to pick up the cues, since dogs can’t talk. Our dogs look at us for support. Therefore, if you do not recognize when your furry friend is unhappy, unstressed, or nervous, that can chip away the bond between you two. Learning how to clearly interpret our canine friend’s body language makes us advocates of the little fella, and helps you to you take one step closer to understanding when your pooch needs you to step in.
2. Spend More Time Together
Another way to learn how to bond with dogs is by spending more time together. However, as much as I advocate for ‘no time spent with your pet is wasted,’ there are certain routines that you should do together. That ensures you can capitalize on the time you have with your pooch to build a stronger bond. For example,
- 𝐵𝑟𝑢𝑠ℎ 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑟𝑒𝑙𝑎𝑥𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛: if you are a new dog owner, then you’ve probably noticed that grooming is kind of a bit traumatic to your pup. In most cases, pups with anxiety problems will always avoid such contacts. But, that right there is the sweet spot for bonding. Yes, you heard that right! You will, however, need to approach this process carefully, so you don’t end up freaking out your pup. The best way is to do it one step at a time and only wait until your furry friend is calmer.
- 𝐸𝑛𝑔𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑔𝑎𝑚𝑒𝑠: games are one of the best dog bonding routines that you can use. For instance, I’m sure you’ve already heard about the fetch game, right? That’s a classic. It’s used to train your pup and also enjoy the time you guys have together. The secret ingredient to this game is finding the right dog ball (Laika Latex Squeaky Dog Chew Ball should do the trick.)
- 𝑇𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑛 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑑𝑜𝑔: don’t overlook the fun training sessions simply because of bonding and confidence building, no siree! You can start small, for instance, asking your pup to sit down while you bring their food. Then start teaching your pooch commands. Be sure to always reward your dog for good behavior since that will help build confidence in them.
- 𝐶𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑡𝑒 𝑎 𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑒: With a routine, your dog will be reassured that they can fully trust you; hence, they’ll start to bond with you.
3. Communicate mindfully
Now here comes the tricky part. If you thought the above tips were hard, this one takes the crown. That’s because here, you need to be more attentive than ever. That’s the only way to understand the needs of your pooch better. So, how do you communicate mindfully with your furry friend?
- 𝑃𝑎𝑦 𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑝𝑒𝑡𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔: dogs communicate a lot to us, even when we don’t realize it. But to enable you to develop that sixth sense for your little pup, you always have to pay attention when petting your pooch. That way, you will instantly get to learn what your canine friend needs.
- 𝐺𝑒𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑘𝑛𝑜𝑤 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚 𝑤𝑒𝑙𝑙: the basic concept of communicating mindfully is getting to know your little friend better. That means learning what your pup likes and dislikes, what they like to do for fun, and how to approach them. That might take a bit of time to grasp completely, but all you need is patience.
- 𝐵𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑚𝑢𝑛𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛: consistency is key to truly bonding with your pooch. As a matter of fact, it works both ways because your dog will also learn more about you.
4. Give them space
We all need time and space for our own, so does your companions. So, give your loved little guy a break. The first few days, you are prone to constantly check up on your pup, which can sometimes be too much for the little guy. As a dog owner, you should understand it’s better to leave your dog alone to explore the world on their own terms. That means leaving them to do their own thing when you are not around.
Aside from that, don’t put high expectations on your dog. For instance, your dog will need time to learn how to do a few tricks. So don’t feel bad if your pooch doesn’t do it right on the first try.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Trust doesn’t come naturally to your furry friend, even though it seems that way. That’s why you need to find ways to bond with your dog, and take actions as early as possible.
What’s more, the trust you build together ensures your dog feels less mutual frustration (yes, your dog can be frustrated with you) and joy around you, hence leading to better training results.