A dog’s relationship with its human is one of the strongest in the animal kingdom. Whether your dog is newly adopted or already your BFF, establishing and maintaining your bond is important to effectively communicating with each other and for a healthy relationship. Here are three steps to successful bonding.
1. READ YOUR DOG
Dogs come in many types — confident dogs and easily frightened dogs, friendly dogs and dogs that aren’t used to people, cuddly dogs and dogs that need their own space. Meet the dog at its level and don’t expect it to be the dog you wish it to be. Learn to understand what your dog is thinking and feeling through its body language.
In particular for newly adopted dogs, know and spot signs of stress and nervousness. These include yawning, lip licking, looking at you sideways and putting its tail between its legs. When your dog is showing any of these behaviors, give it space. Let the dog come to you when it’s ready to interact. Don’t force yourself on the dog or make sudden movements close to it, as this may cause it to fear you. Try luring it over with gentle words and treats instead!
2. KNOW WHAT YOUR DOG LIKES
Once you have established basic trust, figure out what your dog loves. Some dogs will do anything for a treat. Others love balls and or other toys. Some live for their human’s affection. Every dog is different. Some love the outdoors and going on walks, while others just want to stay home lounging on the sofa. Just as you know what your human friends like to do and what motivates them, so too should you with your canine friend.
3. SPEND TIME TOGETHER
Now that you know what your dog is feeling and what it likes, spend time regularly doing things you both like. Obedience training, playing fetch, talking walks and even just talking to and petting your dog can be good ways to establish a deeper relationship and better communication. Plan ahead and block out 15 minutes of special time twice a day to bond with your dog. Make the dog the center of your attention and expect the same from your dog. Encourage it to give you eye contact and to interact with you.
Allow your dog to sleep near you in your bedroom or even on your bed, if that’s something you decide you would like to do.
While you are figuring out your dog, he or she will also be figuring you out. Dogs are bred to read humans, so he or she will probably be doing a better job than you! The more you know about and can communicate with each other, the stronger your bond will be!