Building a bond with a puppy or young dog is a fun and enriching journey. There are many ways in which we can weave the bonds of friendship with our furry family members.
The very first step to creating a foundation for friendship with your puppy or young dog will occur during your first interaction together. Before you interact with your new dog you want to give her the opportunity to come over and investigate you. Allow her to smell you and get comfortable with your presence, doing so helps her to understand that you are not a threat and that you are respectful of her space. She will appreciate not being overwhelmed by you and having the chance to check you out before you touch her. This process is often very quick and easy with puppies, but may take a little longer the older the dog is.
Once your new furry friend has sniffed you and exhibited signs of being relaxed around you, you can begin the interaction. Start with calling her over to you in a calm, happy voice and tell her how good of a girl she is as soon as she shows interest in you. When she comes over to you, you can then offer her a treat or pet her on the chest. Once you two have met and become comfortable with each other, pull out a toy and engage her in some play. This first meeting will establish that you are a respectful friend she can trust and have fun with!
Bringing your new puppy or dog home is when the fun really begins, since most of your bonding will occur once she is a member of your family. The important steps to take in building a strong bond will be the seemingly small, insignificant things you do for your dog every single day. By feeding her, walking her, taking her outside to potty, training her and playing with her during the day you will teach your dog that you are the source of all the good things in her everyday life.
Training is one of the best ways for us to establish a very strong connection between ourselves and our dog when it is built on a foundation of communication, trust and understanding. Working with our dogs and teaching various obedience commands helps us learn how to communicate effectively with each other, and also teaches us to trust one another. Dogs were bred to have the desire to make their human companions happy, so by working together and communicating effectively we fulfill this need-to-please in our dogs.
Play is another major factor in bond building and is very enjoyable for both canine and human! Playing games like fetch, tug-of-war, chase and the "find it" game will strengthen your bond and help make you the focus of your dog's happiness and excitement. Don't be afraid to goof around and laugh, your dog will appreciate the incoming positive energy from you!
Touch and one-on-one quiet time is one of the most powerful bonding tools we can use. For dogs that enjoy being touched, cuddling on the couch or laying by your side while being stroked can boost the bond in a big way. Dogs communicate through touch just as they do with body language. Use petting, massages and ear scratches to share mutual affection with your furry friend. Watch for cues to ensure your dog enjoys this sort of attention since stress can be counterproductive to bond building.
The little things in life can also strengthen the bond between you and your dog, so consider taking your dog with you to run errands if weather permits it. Dogs always benefit from the extra time out of the house. If you have some gardening to do outside, you can give your dog something healthy to chew on so that she can just hang out with you while you work.
However you decide to go about strengthening to bond between you and your dog, remember to take time to appreciate and love your canine companion for all the joy and love they add to your life. Sharing mutual love and respect is the secret to a powerful connection that will last a lifetime.
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This article will be featured in the Animal Wellness magazine!