Forming a close bond with your pet is one of the most rewarding parts of caring for a dog. Having a four-legged best friend whose tail wags when you walk in a dog-lover’s dream. Whether you’re getting started with a new puppy, adopt a shelter pet who needs some gentle social rehabilitation, or just want to show your long-time furry bestie some love, there are purposeful ways you can shower your pup with affection, care, and affirmation to make that bond stronger.
1. SHARE SOME OF YOU
Your dog wants to be part of your life, and sharing time and affection go a long way toward bonding with your dog from the beginning. Even shelter pets with a troubled past can benefit from attention and physical touch, though it may take longer to begin to establish that trust (and some sheltered dogs may never warm greatly to touch). You can take small steps to establish your connection. Try using an old shirt as bedding. Dogs can smell you and snuggle in even when you’re not around. Take a short road trip for quality time. Did you know there are doggy seatbelts for safety?
2. GROOM THEM
Giving your dog attention through a gentle massage and brushing is a great way to start bonding with your dog. Keep their coat healthy with this frequent bonding routine that allows your pet to get used to your touch and associate it with good feelings. The American Kennel Club shares that as you groom them, “your dog will learn that it’s okay to allow his body and feet to be handled; you will be building trust with your canine companion.”
3. SPEND SOCIAL TIME
From the critical early stages of socialization for puppies to playful interaction for older dogs, pets learn boundaries between other canines and humans when they socialize. Dog parks and pet meetups create a special time for dogs that actually deepens your bond. Regular socializing also gives your pet better mental health and often improves physical behavior.
4. TEACH OBEDIENCE AND PRAISE
Trust actually grows when you set boundaries. When you teach your dog the basic commands of sit, stay, and come, you are bonding with your dog and setting your dominance. Even after enrolling your pup in behavior training classes, you should reinforce their learning just between you and your pet. Start the command come with your dog on leash then graduate to off-leash when they show they are ready. This creates a positive outcome that you can praise both verbally and physically. Your praise doesn’t have to be gushing, PetMD.com says “a simple ‘nice work, good pup!’ coupled with a smile” is enough. Praising your pet when they show good behavior is important too, so use positive words and pets often.
Spending playful moments together just you and your dog is also an important way to bond. Teaching tricks stimulates their mind and gives you both a common goal to work towards. When your furry best friend learns a trick, you also get the chance to praise them verbally. If you already live an active lifestyle, take your dog with you on hikes and runs. You can even try to teach your pup to play hide and seek! Remember, when finding you becomes a reward, it deepens the bond of trust in learning to come.
A Ruff Day Bark Club believes that a bond between dogs and their two-legged best friends is so important, we created spaces where you can deepen that relationship. We offer self-grooming stations you can reserve so you can spend more time with your furry bestie, and less cleaning up a wet house. Our members-only dog park allows you and your pet to socialize together in a safe and clean environment. Our puppy training classes will come alongside you to establish those trust-building commands.