Did you know that dogs were among the first members of the Canidae family to be domesticated over 15,000 years ago? First, humans majorly used them for hunting and herding and, in return, offered them shelter, protection, and a reliable source of food.
Today, the human-dog relationship has evolved into a more intimate relationship as most people keep them as pets and value the emotional bond. So, how do you connect with your dog on a deeper level?
To connect with your dog on a deeper level, you’ll need to spend quality time together, communicate well, and develop a strong sense of trust between the two of you. To help accomplish this, you can train them yourself, establish lots of positive physical contact, protect them, groom them yourself, and take them on a variety of adventures.
If you are on a mission to create a deeper connection with your dog and don’t know where to start, you are in the right place. This guide outlines what you need to know about creating a profound connection and what it takes to maintain that bond. Read on to find out more about:
- Factors affecting bonding in dogs
- How to connect with your dog on a deeper level
- Signs of a strong bond
- Signs of a weak bond
Factors Affecting Bonding in Dogs
Before pursuing a deeper bond with your dog, it’s vital to understand some of the factors likely to affect the outcome:
- Age: Puppies adapt quickly to new owners and easily bond with them, more so than older dogs.
- Breed: Some dog breeds are less social compared to others. As such, they will prefer a relaxed bond. Therefore, it is vital to understand your dog’s nature to avoid pressuring them in an attempt to create a bond.
- Personal history: This factor mainly applies to older rescue dogs who experienced trauma or neglect during their early years. The effects of personal history may also apply to dogs that weren’t properly socialized and may thus have a hard time warming up to the bond-building process.
- Former training methods: Dogs that have initially undergone old-school or punitive training may be unwilling to cooperate during the bonding process.
As a dog owner, it is also necessary to assess your bond’s current status with your dog. Is it weak or strong? Let’s look at the indicators of a weak and a strong bond.
Signs of a Weak Bond
Don’t feel ashamed if your bond with your favorite dog is not as strong as you desire. It is a common occurrence, and calls for effort, consistency, and patience to build, rebuild, and make it stronger. Here are some ways to tell that your bond is weak:
- Your dog seems less interested in you. You may notice this when walking or at dog parks, where you appear almost invisible to them.
- When you open the door or unleash them, they attempt to run away. This reaction shows that your dog isn’t comfortable with you.
- When you try to feed or touch him, they tend to keep their distance or withdraw.
- The dog does not maintain eye contact when you are talking to them or training them. They also gets distracted easily.
- The dog prefers being alone. They don’t value your time together. The dog is neither sad to see you leave the house nor excited to see you return.
Signs of a Strong Bond
You can tell that your bond is strong if:
- Your dog creates eye contact when you talk to them and holds it intensely.
- The dog loves physical contact and attention.
- Your dog can read your emotions and is greatly affected by yelling, crying or other changes in your demeanor.
- Even when the doors are open or you unleash him, they remain close to you. They doesn’t rush out or run away.
- The dog loves being around you even when you are in the park. When walking or running, they try to match your pace.
- The dog is always happy and at ease around you. The pup swings their tail and body in excitement when they see you. If you leave the room, the dog stands and follows you to know what you are doing or where you are going.
- If you play with your dog, for example, hide and seek, they won’t stop searching for you until they find you. The dog will always initiate playtime with you.
Congratulations to you if you have a strong bond with your dog! However, you still have to work to maintain that bond. Continue reading to get tips on how to create or maintain a deeper connection with your dog.
As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to create and maintain a strong bond with your dog. Although dogs are different and may have varying ways of responding to behavioral and situational changes, you can adopt certain standard tips to help you in this mission. Outlined below are some of the most helpful tips you can apply.
Note: Dogs differ in the way they respond to the bonding process. Some may connect faster, while others may take months before showing significant changes. But all in all, don’t expect to bond overnight!
Therefore, when implementing the tips below, be patient with your dog and give them time to adjust. Remain consistent throughout the period. Continue with the bonding process until you are satisfied with the outcome. Keep on implementing the tips that work for your dog to maintain the bond created.
Ways To Connect With Your Dog on a Deeper Level
Spend Quality Time With Your Dog
Many people have tight schedules that limit the time they spend with their pups. However, it’s advisable to spare at least half an hour daily for your dog despite your busy schedule.
Spending quality time with your dog doesn’t mean sitting with him on a couch as you concentrate on the TV or browse through your phone. No! Quality times means doing something fun or exciting together.
That said, you can still sit on the couch and let your dog lie on your lap. This physical contact helps in creating a physical connection necessary in strengthening the human-dog relationship.
Additionally, you can spend time with your dog by taking evening or early morning walks. When doing this, don’t just hold the leash and walk without paying any attention to them. Don’t stare at your smart phone! Take your time, observe their behavior, talk, and interact with them as you walk. These deliberate actions make your time together more productive.
If you make it a routine to spend quality time with your dog, they will always look forward to it, making your relationship stronger.
Communicate Clearly With Your Dog
Clear communication builds a foundation for every relationship. When dealing with dogs, you should understand that they are faster in responding to visual cues than verbal ones. Pooches focus more on what you do than what you say. It’s also necessary to maintain eye contact when talking to your canine friend.
When communicating, be consistent with your cues or signal, especially when training them. Additionally, since dogs are not verbal, it is your responsibility to learn how your dog acts when hungry, irritated, or sick. By doing this, you’ll create an effective mode of communication, and you’ll be in a position to respond to their needs as they arise.
Your bond will be deeper if there is an understanding between the two of you. So if you aren’t good at communicating, work on improving your communication skills.
Add a Little Love Into Your Dog’s Food
Just like humans, one way to a dog’s heart is through the stomach. Therefore, you can add a little love to your dog’s food by preparing them healthy and tasty meals. Additionally, you can become part of this extremely positive experience either by feeding them by hand or eating your meals together.
Maintaining a regular feeding schedule that your dog can count on helps your dog to trust you. Regularly meeting expectations is good for any relationship.
Train Your Dog
Training your dog goes beyond teaching him his name and a few tricks to impress your family and friends. It has a lot to do with your relationship. For example, if your dog obeys your commands, they please you. And if you reward them, they get pleased too. Training helps build a bond of trust and mutual understanding which is helpful in achieving your goals.
Dogs crave mental stimulation and teaching them new tricks makes them eager to interact with you. To cultivate a deeper connection with your dog, try maintaining a consistent training schedule.
Go on Adventures With Your Dog
Who doesn’t like adventures? Dogs, too, love exploring! Going on adventures is a great way of connecting with the surroundings. It allows you and your dog to interact with a new environment while still learning more about each other.
Here you will know more about what your dog likes or dislikes, their fears, and what they enjoy doing. This understanding contributes to a strong bond.
Adventures might includse traveling, hiking, visiting new parks, cities, or forests. If you’re not into these outdoor activities, you can take your dog with you when visiting friends or relatives. New sights, smells, and sounds will excite your dog (however, this depends on how social your dog is).
Stay Calm With Your Dog
When dealing with a dog, it is advisable to learn how to tame your emotions. Yelling, losing your temper, or using an excessively commanding tone may upset your dog or make them cold towards you. When you continually act calm, your dog learns that they can trust you to be a steady, guiding presence.
Remember that dogs have a special way of sensing people’s feelings. They are likely to respond or tune in to your feelings and emotions, whether sad, joyous, or calm. And calmness creates a conducive environment for your dog to interact and bond with you.
Cuddle Up With Your Dog
Dogs value physical contact; it is a sign of love and affection. Therefore, it is advisable to cuddle with them as much as you can. You can cuddle up on a couch, the floor, or allow them on the bed with you.
Note that not all dogs love cuddling, however. Some are less inclined to lots of physical contact. Take your time to determine what level of physical affection your dog desires.
Play Together With Your Dog
Playing is a fun and exciting experience which helps your dog learn how to interact, socialize and bond with people. They also learn a lot through playing. Playing is also an ideal way of spending quality time with your canine. Dogs rely on your signals and vocal commands to know what’s appropriate and what’s not.
When playing, it is important to let your dog know when he goes beyond limits: when enough is enough! If he becomes uncontrollable or too aggressive, you can express your displeasure by withdrawing the play or using vocal commands and signals.
By being assertive, your pup can learn the boundaries to keep when socializing. Additionally, it will reinforce his ability to read your emotions, pay attention to your body language and focus on your commands.
Sleep With Your Dog
Can you allow your dog to share a bed with you, or do you value your personal space? Since dogs love physical contact, sleeping together is one way to show that you trust each other. If you notice that your dog peacefully falls asleep near you, chances are they feel comfortable and protected around you.
Making close physical contact with your dog helps him release endorphins, which promotes relaxation. Feeling comfortable and safe together makes you share a profound connection with your dog.
Groom Your Dog
Depending on the breed, some dogs may require regular brushing more than others. For example, the medium and long-haired dogs may require daily or regular brushing. For the short-haired ones, you can stroke their hair in a way similar to brushing.
Other than brushing, you can also wash your dog. Generally, grooming brings you into close contact with your dog to help establish a good connection as well as trust.
Reward Your Dog’s Good Behavior
Make it a habit to reward your dog or to treat them for their good behavior. If they correctly respond to your commands, provide them with treats and/or praise. Any transaction with positive results will contribute towards your relationship.
Let’s now address some of the frequently asked questions related to bonding with canines.
How Long Does It Take To Bond With a Dog?
Different dogs have varying temperaments that affect the length of time they take to bond with their owners. However, in most cases, canines take between two days to two months to get used to their owners. Therefore, don’t put too much pressure on your pup if you feel that they’ve taken too long to establish a strong bond with you—a bond doesn’t develop overnight, anyway.
Be patient and consistent with the techniques you use, and eventually, the bond you desire will develop.
How Do I Know That I Have Developed a Bond With My Dog?
Canines are affectionate and tend to be possessive of their favorite humans. Therefore, if your pooch has a strong bond with you, you’ll easily be able to recognize it through their behavior. For example, they’ll perform obedience without hesitation, keep tabs of your location, initiate playtime, or sit or lie between your feet, among other behaviors.
Do Dogs Know You Love Them?
Although science shows that dogs don’t understand the meaning of the term ‘love,’ they’re aware that you treat them well and provide for their needs. That is how they distinguish those who make an extra effort to care for them from the rest of the family members, and that’s why you may find that your pup is more attached to you than to other people in the home.
Will My Dog Stop Loving Me or Being Close to Me if I Get Another Dog?
If you’re very attached to your canine companion, you might be hesitant about getting another pooch for fear of losing your first dog’s love. While this may not be the case, your first dog is likely to get jealous if you lavish all your attention on the newcomer. Therefore, to avoid this, you should introduce your two pups to each other carefully and reward them if they get along.
What does often happen when a second dog enters a home is that the two dogs become more dependent on each other than solely on their owner. This can be difficulty for the owner, as they may feel a small sense of rejection from their original dog. It’s perfectly normal, however, and one of the tradeoffs of adding to the family.
Remember to give individual attention to each of your dogs — just as you would with children — and your dogs will likely retain the bond you already have developed with them.
Will the Bond I Have With My Dog Break if I Go Away for Long?
Dogs have very good memories for their relationships with people, and your pup is likely to remember you and love you just as much upon your return. There are plenty of YouTube videos of dogs reuniting with their parents, especially soldiers, after many months of being away. These heart-warming videos are evidence that canines still remember those with whom they have a strong bond.
How Do I Tell if the Bond I Had With My Dog Has Broken?
Generally, dogs are affectionate and love unconditionally—they still adore their owners even if they’ve been ill-treated. However, if you happen to do something that makes your pup fearful or nervous, you’re likely to be able to tell by observing changes in their behavior. You might find them being cold towards you, hiding when you get into the house, urinating inside the home, or staying in a submissive posture, among others.
Dogs have a strong ability to tune in to human emotions. The way you treat your dog determines the type of connection you will have with him. You can create and maintain a deeper bond with your dog by:
- Playing together
- Going on adventures
- Maintaining clear communication
- Training them
- Feeding them with love
Once you have created a deep connection with your dog, it will stay forever unless you compromise their trust or make them fearful in some way. There are few feelings more satisfying than those that accompany a strong bond with your dog. We encourage you to connect with your dog on a deeper level.