Top 9 Ways to Build a Strong Bond with Your Dog
Mar 23, 2023
The dog human bond... there's nothing quite like it! So how can you boost the mutual trust and respect between you and your dog?
We have 9 tips on bonding with your dog just for you.
1. Spend Focused Quality Time
It's not always the quantity of time you spend with your dog, but the quality! Dogs are social animals and most thrive on doing things with their family. Quality time is key to bonding with your dog. Whenever you're spending time with your dog, try to be fully present and give them your full attention. Put the phone away, turn off the TV, and focus enjoying the moment with your dog. You'll quickly find that this focused time helps to boost your bond together.
2. Stick to a Regular Schedule and Consistent Rules
Dogs are creatures of habit and having structure so they know what to expect will help them feel comfortable and secure in their environment and build trust. A consistent routine that includes feeding times, walking times, potty breaks, play time, and bed time can help put your dog at ease.
In addition to having a regular schedule, having consistent rules (like if they are allow on furniture) also helps them to know what's expected and will help alleviate stress from not knowing what to do.
3. Get Active Together
Going for a walk or a run with your dog are great dog bonding exercises to stay active and physically healthy! Exercise is also a great outlet for you and your dog to burn off excess energy and to explore the outdoors—checking out new sights and smells. Keep your time together interesting and mix up your walking paths in the neighborhood or visit a new park.
4. Training Sessions
One-on-one training sessions with your dog are an excellent way to build your bond with them and help them to become the best dog they can be. With positive reinforcement (like treats and praise), most dogs will see the training as a fun and positive experience.
Every dog should learn the basic manners such as sit, stay, down, and come. But one-on-one training can be used to help dogs be successful in many other areas! In addition to training them on the basics, you can work with your dog on learning fun tricks such as shake or roll over. You can also teach them move advanced skills such as how to heel on walks, how to handle distractions, and how to properly greet guests in the home. For assistance with more advanced or specialized training, research local trainers in your area.
5. Regular Playtime Together
This is one of our favorite ways to bond with your dog. Even if it's just 10 minutes a day, add some fun and increase your human canine bond with one-on-one play sessions together! Whether your dog enjoys playing fetch, doing puzzle toys, running through a sprinkler, catching frisbees, playing a game of tug, or searching for hidden treats, the possibilities are endless for how to have fun with your dog. Your dog will appreciate the extra fun time spent with you!
6. Communication is Key
Clear, consistent, and positive communication is important part of building a strong bond between dog and owner. Use consistent words for commands and pay close attention to your emotions and energy when communicating with them. Dogs are attuned to our emotions and energy and react to our body language. We typically recommend using a calm, steady, and positive voice when talking to your dog. If we use an excited tone or energy, your dog will generally become very excited and motivated to do something you want them to do.
7. Learn to Read Their Body Language
Dogs communicate a lot through their body language. Watching them closely and paying attention to how they're acting can alert you to how your dog is feeling and strengthen dog and human bond.
Are they excited, nervous, content, frustrated, or something else? By listening to them we can adapt to their needs to help them get what they need. For additional help learning to read your dogs body language, we recommend looking at training materials by Dr. Sophia Yin.
8. Build Trust Through Affection and Petting
Touch between a human and dog is beneficial for both and a great way to bond, lower stress and anxiety for both of you. If your dog likes physical touch, try giving them a gentle massage or scratching them on their chest. Getting pets used to physical touch helps them to be more comfortable with handling as they meet other people such as family, vets or groomers.
It's recommended to pet your dog in a relaxed, gentle, slow way. In general, dogs prefer to be rubbed on the chest, shoulders, or base of the neck in the direction that the fur grows. Avoid reaching over the top of the dog to pet him/her and avoid hugs as hugs can make many dogs uncomfortable. For many dogs, reaching for a dog's face can be seen as a threatening gesture.
Note: Some dogs are more affectionate than others. Use caution when meeting unfamiliar dogs, as not all dogs are comfortable with attention from new people. Every dog is different, so be aware of their body language. If they move away from you or show any signs of stress, (such as ears back, yawning, or licking their lips), let them be. If a dog approaches you loose bodied and wiggly it is possible they are interested in getting some extra love and attention.
9. Give Them Their Own Space
Giving your dog their own safe space can help strengthen their trust in you and boost their confidence. As fun as it is to spend time with your dogs, sometimes they need a break. Dogs are den animals and many enjoy having a space, such as a crate or a comfortable dog bed in a quiet room, to retreat to and relax. Their safe space allows them to escape for some alone time to rest or to cope with stressful situations such as thunderstorms, fireworks, parties, or new babies. Their safe space should be easily accessible at all times.
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