Guest Post by Jessica Brody
If you’ve chosen, found, rescued, and come home with a new dog, congratulations - you’ve taken the first steps in one of the most rewarding paths life has to offer. Whether you got a dog as companionship to aid in recovery, because you need a workout buddy, or because you want to teach your children about responsibility, the many reasons to own a dog prove that they are truly one of man’s best friends.
Spend time with your dog
This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s important. Spending as much time as possible with your new dog is the best way to increase your bond.
“Spending time together builds trust, confidence, and love, and creates a feeling of familial belonging - the roots of the bond. Activities - walking, hiking, training, playing - these are things which pull you both closer into each other, nurturing that intimacy,” says Modern Dog Magazine.
Walk your dog. Play with your dog. Let your dog accompany you wherever you go. If you’re house training a puppy, build its designated doggy space near where you are most of the time. If you work a lot, make time when you get off to spend exclusively with your dog.
Give them lots of physical contact
If you bring home a puppy, physical contact won’t really be your choice - it kind of comes with the territory. But for older dogs - specifically rescue and shelter dogs - physical contact has been shown to increase the bond between owner and pet.
“There is strong evidence that physical contact such as grooming and petting lowers stress in shelter dogs, which is measured by reductions in both heart rate and the stress hormone cortisol as well as by an increase in the anti-stress hormone oxytocin. This has led researchers to believe that physical contact plays a role in enhancing the bond between people and dogs,” notes The Bark.
Learn your dog’s likes and dislikes
While most physical contact is beneficial, some dogs do have likes and dislikes when it comes to the type of contact. It’s important to train your dog to be accepting of all types of touching - even the kind that’s not technically enjoyable (like nail clipping and teeth brushing). But in order to bond with your dog, it doesn’t hurt to recognize their likes and dislikes and act accordingly. If your dog seems to respond poorly to being scratched in a certain place, scratch somewhere else. If your dog doesn’t like a certain type of treat or bone, make some adjustments. Giving your dog what they want can help you bond.
Establish a routine and become the pack leader
Believe it or not, you’ll have a better bond with your dog if you establish clear rules and stick to them. Dogs like routine, and if they depend on you to be their leader they will bond with you quickly.
“Dogs like rules and a house with clear rules that your dog can understand and follow will mean a happier dog and a better bond between you. So, don’t let him on the couch one day and the next punish him for it. Instead, decide on rules both you and your dog can live with, and stick to them,” says iHeartDogs.
Don’t confuse your dog with instability. A confused dog is an unhappy dog, and you’ll never be able to bond with a dog that doesn’t know how to obey you.
Many of these bonding tips boil down to this: make your dog a huge part of your life. When you bring home a new canine friend, you are signing a contract with them. You must hold up your end of the bargain, which is to give them the attention and loving discipline that they require to live a long, healthy, and happy life.
Jessica gave some excellent tips on how to bond with your new dog. I'm super grateful for all her research and insight during May for National Pet Month AND National Pet Week!
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