The Importance of a Strong Bond with Your Dog
Building a strong bond with your dog has multiple benefits. It is advantageous for working or rescue dogs but also for companion animals as it encourages good behavior and social adaptability. When a dog bonds with their dog owner, they see humans as pack leaders. Through social learning and bonding activities, dogs can learn to understand and respond to human signaling, obeying tasks and commands for everyday activities.
A stronger bond is built when a new dog spends time with their family members through play, learning, social outings, or basic everyday engagement.
The Benefit of an Emotional Bond with Your Dog
Below we’ll look a the benefits of spending time with your furry friend:
- Proximity seeking or attachment is when a dog seeks out the closeness of its owner for reassurance, calm, and security.
- Physiological benefits show in both pets and owners. Owning a dog has been shown to reduce mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, and more.
- Engaging with your pet boosts cognitive development in your new puppy or older hound. Mental games keep their mind focused and vigilant.
- Physical exercise increases for humans and their pooch when the effort to bond is prioritized. This leads to health benefits for all, including heart health, joint wellness, reduced obesity in dogs, coordination, and overall immune boosting.
- Dog behavior is improved through bonding exercises, reducing the stress of separation anxiety and improving social integration with other pets and humans.
- Bonding builds trust between owner and pet, implementing confidence and comfort in a new environment or when facing stress triggers.
- Improved trainability is a wonderful perk to bonding with your pet. If you’d like to enroll your pet in dog training classes, bonding with them at home is vital to their success.
How to Build a Better Bond with Your Dog
Dog bonding can happen in many ways, some of which are everyday activities that most dog owners look forward to when considering adopting a pet. Scheduling some quality time with your new dog or puppy will benefit your friendship and level of trust in the long run. Make an effort to spend time with your pet daily, which will quickly become an enriching part of your routine.
Start by becoming familiar with your dog breed and its typical characteristics. Some pets are more active, while others need more intellectual stimulation or are homebodies. Please educate yourself on your dog breed and build a relationship with them based on their typical breed traits.
Below you’ll find some great ideas on how to bond with your dog.
Participate in Fun Activities
Exercising and playing with your dog is excellent for their healthy development, but it also creates a fun bond between pet and owner. You’ll soon find out what your dog likes or dislikes and can play with them regardless of their physical ability.
- Playtime with your pet can involve a game of fetch, tug-of-war, or hide and seek with scent items and toys. Your dog will feed off your excitement and enjoy some quality bonding time. If your pet loves water, take them to a safe space where they can swim. Swimming may be an enjoyable option for the whole family.
- Indoor activities like dog yoga (or doga) are a fun reason to grab your yoga mat and show your pooch how to do a downward-dog. A meditation playlist can encourage a relaxing time for you and your pet at the end of a long day.
- Agility activities provide an opportunity to get your dog jumping, scuttling, and crawling around your home and garden. Obstacle courses that involve balancing, flexibility, and clambering can boost your pet’s obedience skills, confidence, and body awareness.
Take Your Dog on Outings
Taking your dog out of the house stimulates the family-pet bond. Doing your homework to find pet-friendly locations in your city will expose you and your pet to new and exciting spots. Exploring pet-friendly options is an opportunity to meet other pet parents and allow your pet to engage with other dogs and boost their social skills.
Consider these ideas:
- Dog parks
- Hiking trails
- Road trips with parks or pet-friendly stops or hotels along the way
- Dog-friendly restaurants or markets
Teach Your Dog New Tricks
Many dog breeds love learning tricks, but even your old dog can learn a thing or two. With positive reinforcement (and plenty of treats), your dog can learn skills that become the new party trick. However, pay attention to basic training like sit, stay and come. Make sure to shower your pet with praise when they get it right!
Through training, your dog will learn to listen to your commands and guidance. Training them enforces boundaries in the home and in physical engagement, teaching your pet what is acceptable during interaction with others. Plus, when you’ve taught them how to high-five, spin around or roll over, they’ll be ready for a nice long nap!
Household manners can be made easier with the help of a behaviorist or with one-on-one training sessions with a dog trainer.
Offering comfort to your pet is another method of bonding. Snuggling on the couch, cuddling with them when you get home from work, petting them when they come to you, and offering belly rubs meet their physical dog needs and help them to feel loved and nurtured.
In return for your affection, your pet will likely offer you comfort in your time of need. Numerous studies have shown that physical touch between pets and owners boosts oxytocin, the hormone linked to love and belonging.
As your pet becomes accustomed to physical contact and positive associations surrounding touch, they’ll be more relaxed during grooming sessions. Clipping your pet’s nails, cleaning their ears, or brushing their coat is easier when they are calm. As they soak up the pampering, you can rest easy knowing your pet’s coat and body are taken care of.
Provide Enriching Toys
The pet market is inundated with options for toys for your pet. Explore your local pet store or online shops for fun items to add to your cart. While you seek out balls and squeaky toys, remember to add some games that encourage mental stimulation to keep your dog’s mind fit and young.
Here are some great options to explore:
Engaging your dog’s senses through play is vital for their development. It can also combat boredom and negative behaviors associated with frustration during separation.
Toys that involve nosing skills, problem-solving, fine motor skills, and mental aptitude will positively impact their self-esteem while reducing stress. You can also find toys that boost their health directly, like dental items that aid teething pains and strengthen gums.
Learn Your Dog’s Body Language
Learning your dog’s body language and social cues is a massive perk to bonding with man’s best friend. As you engage with them, you’ll learn what every emotion looks like or what every tail wag may mean.
Understanding canine behavior will help you see when your dog is fearful or uneasy. You may have noticed that your dog acts differently during a thunderstorm, in the car, or when at the vet. Insight into their body cues and subtle communication allows you to remove them from situations that cause anxiety. Sensitivity to your dog’s body language will build trust and let your dog feel safe that you know them best.
Understanding your pet will mitigate negative experiences, aggression, or anxious behavior, both of which can be harmful to your pet’s confidence and your dog’s trust in you.
Vocal cues, barking, howling, and crying can also have various meanings. You’ll quickly learn the difference between an aggressive or protective bark and playful one when you regularly interact with your dog.
Speak to Your Dog
Speaking to your dog throughout the day while making eye contact is critical to building your bond with your dog. Communicating with your pet allows them to learn your vocal tones and instructions. Sometimes you need to be calm and firm, but other times you can be more playful and encouraging.
Through repeated words, your dog will quickly pick up on instructions. Dogs can understand hundreds, if not thousands, of words through repetition and dedication.
Chatting to your dog will help you to feel emotionally connected to them. Your dog will learn your mood and be able to offer companionship and care. With your dog at your side, you’ll feel closer to them and more inclined to trust them and earn their trust in return.