The Water Bowl
Breed & Health Resources

How to Bond with Your Dog

By Liz Palika

Man Bonding with Dog

Bonding with your dog is a unique experience for each pet owner. However, there are steps you can take to help ease your new dog into feeling comfortable with you. As they adjust and learn to trust you, your bond will become more prevalent.

How-to books tell us that it’s important to bond with our puppy or newly-adopted dog, but the bond isn’t really defined – this is because it’s such a personal thing. Every dog owner is an individual, as is every dog, so the process of bonding is going to be different each time.

How to Create a Bond with Your Dog

Since each dog, owner, and bond is different, so too will be the technique for creating that bond. However, there are some shared characteristics that can help build it.

Spend Quality Time With Your Dog

First of all, time shared with the dog is important. Welcoming a dog into your house is a transitional experience. You should establish a routine that you and your dog can rely on. This routine ensures that you can set aside enough time to give your pup the attention they need. Quality time together can be done through walks, playing games, training, or even lounging on the couch. While your dog may just be a part of your life, you are their whole world -- time is vital for the bond between you two.

Establish Training Expectations

Building a sense of cooperation is also important. Remember that, historically, dogs were domesticated for mutual benefit. Dogs helped us hunt and warned us of predators and trespassers, and we provided them with food, companionship, and security. We worked together then, and that sense of cooperation should remain a part of our partnership.

Training builds cooperation as well as better communication and understanding. The dog doesn’t have to be an upper level obedience competitor or a law enforcement working dog, but every dog needs a good foundation of basic obedience. Training must be fair, and so must the training expectations. Harsh, overly-demanding training can weaken your relationship and bond.

Using positive reinforcement, training toys, and consistent methods, your dog will learn what your expectations are and aim to please you. If you have multiple dogs, training them together can help increase their bond with you as well as each other.

Respect Each Other

Last, but certainly not least, for a good bond the two of you must respect each other and genuinely like each other. Not every dog and every dog owner will be the right match for each other and sometimes when the fit is wrong, a bond won’t be there. But when the fit is right; it’s right!

Sometimes it Takes Time

Occasionally, people can meet a dog, look into their eyes, and and know right then and there that they were bonded. Boom! You’re a team.

It doesn’t always happen that way though. Some dogs come from backgrounds in which they had already bonded with their previous owner. When this is the case, coming into a new home can begin a grieving period. In these situations, time, training, and patience are extremely important. It can take several weeks before the two of you begin to build a relationship.

People also have different views on what a bond should look like. Some say a bond is the dog’s desire to work, care, help, and be with their owner. Other pet parent’s consider a bond formed when their dog follows them from room to room all day long. No matter how you bond, or what it looks like, you’ll know when the relationship has been formed…and you’ll never want to lose it!

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