Dogs tend to be loving animals, and they will adore their owners; but that doesn't mean you can just sit back and expect a strong connection with your pet. Like any relationship, your dog needs attention and encouragement (and bathed and walked and fed and... you get the picture).
Having an unbreakable bond with your pet is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have, so in this post I'm going to give a few pointers – unintended dog pun detected – on how to make a special friendship even stronger.
A big advantage of having a dog is the companionship it provides. In fact, there are many dog owners who just couldn't imagine life without a four legged friend to share good times with.
One of the things I love most about having a dog is that you can be out for a walk, or sitting in a room, and you are alone, but not alone. You don't have to talk (although full disclosure: I talk to my dog constantly), you can just be there, keeping each other company. But as much as you might love this connection, it's so much more important to your dog.
Dogs are pack animals. Many of their drives, impulses, thoughts and feelings are created from wanting to be part of a social group. The more time you spend with your dog, the more this pack bond is reinforced, and the closer a relationship you will have.
It doesn't mean you can never leave your dog alone in the house, but you should remember that spending time with you makes your dog feel safe and gives him or her a real sense of belonging.
Most dogs never truly lose their sense of being a pup. They will be playful, but if you've ever lived with a dog who doesn't know how to slow down and relax, then you'll know the carnage it can cause – I had a lovely leather couch and a beagle who often disagreed with it.
There's a balance to be had between encouraging playing and requiring discipline, that's for sure, but it's an important distinction when generating a strong bond between you and your pet.
If you've ever watched a documentary on wolves or been lucky enough to watch a group of foxes in the wild, you'll know that they love to play with each other, especially when they're young.
Your dog is no different. This playing helps teach your dog important skills, but it also helps forge an affectionate bond. It's all about fun! And the more your dog has fun with you, the more he or she will love being in your company, and will feel closer to you.
But, it's just as important to keep discipline. The reason is that your dog will respect you as a member of the pack who is in charge. If you let your dog run riot and do what it wants then it won't really respect you.
Your dog will have a looser bond with you if it doesn't know you're the boss. For this reason you need to combine playfulness and discipline to forge a stronger relationship with your pet, and to keep your house in one piece!
This is one of the most important aspects in, not just developing a relationship with your dog, but in owning a pet. Personality trumps all. Sure, there are defined dog breeds, and most of those breeds have tendencies and behavior types which are more likely, but your dog has an individual personality.
He or she will have their own likes and dislikes, and that goes for their characteristics and behavior as well. In forging a strong relationship with your dog, you need to understand its personality and let that inform your interactions with it.
Your dog might love to have its belly rubbed, and so touch is a great way to forge a healthy relationship. Your dog might not like to play fetch, but it might love to be chased or play tug of war with a favorite toy.
Your dog might also let you know when it's had enough playing or running around, or maybe it will have a grumpy streak and be in a mood with you when you stay out too long.
Whatever traits your dog has, remember that it's a thinking, feeling, aware creature with its own personality.
Learn from your dog's body language and behavior to help foster a good relationship, and there's no doubt you will have an amazing bond with your pet.