For thousands of years, dogs have held the title of “humankind’s best friend,” and for good reason, too! They make us laugh, bring us comfort, and shower us with unconditional love. So is it any wonder we want to strengthen the emotional bond we share with them?
Below are five simple ways to help build a strong bond with your dog so you can foster a deeper connection.
Five tips for bonding with your dog
1. Keep to a regular routine
Establishing a regular routine plays a vital role in building trust with your dog. If you have regular feeding and walking times, your dog will learn that each day, no matter what, their needs will be taken care of. The worry of when their next meal will be is removed.
The regular assurance that their needs will be met will allow your dog to place their trust in you, leading to a more significant social bond between the two of you.
2. Take a dog DNA test to understand their needs
One of the best ways to build a stronger bond with your dog is to get to know them on a much deeper level through their DNA. From Beagles who hunt to Border Collies who herd, dogs have been bred to perform certain tasks or activities that are now part of their DNA.
Discovering your dog’s breed mix and genetic traits is a fun, interactive way to better understand their personality, as well as their physical and behavioral needs. Plus, you can learn which health conditions they may be predisposed to, which allows you to take steps to prepare for or even prevent genetic diseases from impacting your dog’s quality of life.
Dogs have complex social and emotional needs, and can become bored or anxious without the right amount of mental stimulation. By knowing your dog’s breed mix, you can get a better understanding of what drives them. You can then focus on encouraging this natural expression, leading to a much deeper connection with your dog.
3. Talk to your dog…in a high-pitched tone
You may only speak to your dog in your “dog voice” when there is nobody around, but research has shown that dogs respond more favorably to people speaking to them in high-pitched tones compared to regular ones.
In this study, dogs spent more time with, and in closer proximity to, someone who had spoken to them in a high-pitched “dog voice” compared to a regular voice. This suggests that talking to your dog in that high-pitched tone you reserve only for them can actually help strengthen your bond with them.
4. Make eye contact
Dogs release oxytocin when they look into their owners’ eyes. Often referred to as the “love hormone,” oxytocin helps bond mothers to their newborn babies when they look into their eyes. This same hormone is released by both dogs and humans when making eye contact with each other. This surge in oxytocin, through eye contact, can help build a strong emotional bond with your dog. Just be sure to keep your body language relaxed and pay close attention to your dog; for some dogs, uninterrupted eye contact may be threatening.
5. Have physical contact
Dogs also release oxytocin after they have been in physical contact with a human. Therefore, petting your dog is another great way to build a strong relationship with them. Be sure to only pet your dog in areas they like, and allow them the freedom to move away from the petting at any time.
By showing your dog some extra TLC through belly rubs, massages, grooming, etc., you can promote the release of this feel-good hormone, deepening your bond with them.
How to tell if your dog has bonded with you
So you’ve put in the hard work of trying to build a strong relationship with your dog, but how can you tell if they have actually bonded with you?
There are many ways a dog will show you that you are their loved human. These include:
- Exposing their stomach to you
- Sleeping near you
- Bringing you gifts
- Getting excited when you return home
- Showing you affection by licking you
The time it takes for your dog to start showing signs of attachment may depend in part on the age they were when you brought them home.
Puppies will take less time to build a strong bond with their owners and adult dogs will take longer. If you adopted your dog as an adult, there will be a transition period as they get used to their new home. This is usually estimated to take about three months, but it does vary greatly depending on their history.
Building a strong bond with your dog can lead to a deep connection with them. From speaking in a high-pitched tone to taking a dog DNA test, creating a solid relationship with your dog doesn’t have to be difficult. Implementing the simple tips above will strengthen the bond between you and your dog, leading to many happy years together.