The relationship between humans and dogs can be traced back over thousands of years. Side by side, dogs have helped each other in countless situations. It is no wonder that dogs are referred to as man’s best friend.
The original purpose of dogs has changed over the years – from working dogs fulfilling a specific task, to companions in our homes where we enjoy each other’s company. Though some working dog breeds are still doing the same job as their original intended purpose, bonding can sometimes be tricky with a family pet.
As humans required the assistance of their dogs in the past, they were a lot more involved in our daily lives. Now, some of us are away for the majority of the day at work or school, whilst our dogs stay at home all alone. Not dedicating ourselves as much to our dogs makes bonding a little challenging, but there are ways to make this faster and easier. This article will explain everything you need to know about bonding with your dog and offer you some valuable tips.
Why is it important to bond with your dog?
From watching TV together on the couch to going out for walks, dogs thrive on human attention. Many dog breeds inherently desire to make their owners happy, and this mostly starts from puppyhood. Training and simply spending time consistently with your pup helps establish a trusted bond over time.
With older dogs adopted from a shelter, or a rescue dog, bonding can take a little while – but it’s certainly no different. The more quality time you spend with your dog, the stronger the bond and your relationship will become.
The majority of things you can do to bond with your dog is by teaching them new skills, working on tasks, and spending time with them frequently.
Here are a few examples of how to bond with your dog. Mixing these into your routine and giving more time and attention to your dog will make this process faster, and will help to build a very supportive and trusting relationship in no time.
1) Socialize them frequently
Dogs are social creatures, and they require socialization for their entire life. Whether you have a puppy or an older dog, they will thrive on activities that encourage them to interact with other dogs and humans.
When socializing a dog, consider their socialization style. Every dog is slightly different. Just as humans may prefer a quiet coffee shop with a couple of friends over a busy nightclub packed full of strangers, dogs have their own preferences. Some will be happy to play in slightly bigger groups; others may prefer one-on-one play, and some dogs may simply crave outings with their immediate family. Thinking about the best type of socialization will result in a more effective experience for your dog.
2) Teach them a new trick
Teaching your dog new tricks and approving of how they execute the commands is a great way for them to fulfill a purpose. Some working dog breeds have been bred to uphold specific jobs.
In addition to teaching your dog basic commands like come, sit and stay, try fun tricks that will take some pressure off your dog, like shaking hands, rolling over, and playing dead. Additionally, teaching your dog new tricks is excellent mental stimulation for them.
3) Communicate with them clearly
Teaching anything starts with clear communication – and that is no different when it comes to our four-legged friends. Dogs speak a different language than humans. The same way we try to understand what they are telling us through their body language, dogs look at our movements to know what we’re trying to say.
For example, wanting your dog to come to you when you say “come” is what you will try to aim for in training, but before dogs understand the words fully, they may associate the hand gestures and body movements that come with the commands. Making your body language obvious for your dog will help you to communicate clearly, allowing for better training and bonding with your dog.
4) Understand your dog's body language
Knowing what your dog is trying to tell you through their body language makes life easier for you and your dog. Whether your dog feels uncomfortable or excited, there will be hints for you to quickly understand why they are acting a certain way. Understanding these improves communication.
A great way to know what your dog is trying to tell you is by keeping a log of their activities. Monitor what your dog is doing and when they’re doing it. Once you start to see patterns in behavior, you will better understand what your dog does before and after. For example, you might see your dog circling or sniffing the ground before a potty break or nipping before going out for exercise. Recognizing these small behaviors will help you understand your dog’s mood and needs, enabling you to take the right actions.
5) Take them with you on outings to public places (where appropriate)
Going out for a walk in the neighborhood or in the park isn’t the only place you can take your dog out with you. Taking your dog on a family picnic by the lake, jogging, bicycling, swimming, and camping together is a great way to get them more involved in your life which will ultimately help you to bond quickly.
Imagine how you would feel if everyone in the family went for a fun activity and you were left at home. That’s why it is crucial to make them a more significant part of family life.
Additional tips on how to bond with your dog
- Give your full attention: With the best intentions for our dogs, sometimes, life can divert our attention elsewhere. Try not to be distracted by your phone or TV when you’re together with your dog. Being present in the moment when petting or hanging out with your dog will make these activities a lot more meaningful.
- Spend quality time: Don’t just go out for simple walks with your dog. Mix it up a little and try new activities like jogging, hiking, swimming, and exploring new places together (looking for inspiration in West Michigan? Check out our list of places you can take your dog in our area).
- Provide a good diet: The better your dog’s nutrition, the more energy there will be for bonding. Feeding your dog good-quality food and providing variety in their diet will boost energy levels and their overall appetite for other activities.
Bonding with your dog is a special thing. Once you have established a trusting relationship, your dog will be a significant part of the family and feel less of a responsibility.
Every dog owner should provide their dog with enough physical and mental exercise to make them happier – which, in turn, will make you happy too. Enjoying each other’s company is a key component of building a strong bond with your dog.