5 Ways to Build a Bond with Your Dog

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While we love our pets and consider them to be key family members, is our commitment to one another more or less transactional – they need us for sustenance, and we need them for comfort – and that’s how we happily co-exist? Or is it something more? So, here’s a question. If you could find a way to actually bond with your dog rather than simply share living space, would you be interested?

Of course, you would. And that’s why we’re sharing these 5 easy steps to how you can build a stronger connection with your pooch.

  • Build Trust

Trust creates a level of comfortable predictability for your dog. He knows he can count on you to come through when he needs it most – meals, walks, or comfort during a stressful time. But there also needs to be an overarching level of trust that isn’t shaken when activities fall outside these established norms. The best way to gain his trust and bond with your dog is to always be fair and don’t tease. Don’t pretend you have a treat if there is none. Don’t trick him into getting leashed up for a trip to the dog park, when it’s a trip to the vet. You know the buzz words that get him happily excited – don’t abuse them.

  • Use Rewards-Based Training

All dogs require training at some point in their lives. Whether it’s to learn the basic commands, to help with socialization, or to help curtail naughty habits, teaching your dog new behaviors is simply part of life. And it’s during this period of growth that he’s learning more than just how to respond to commands. While he’s working hard to anticipate your expectations, he’s also taking note of how well you respond when he gets it wrong. Don’t create an environment of fear. Build a bond with your dog by using rewards-based training to praise and acknowledge his good days, and forget about scolding and punishment on those not-so-great days.

  • Set Expectations

There aren’t many dogs that don’t get excited by the words “good boy”. And whether it’s to recognize a trick he has performed or a naughty behavior he has overcome, dogs just love verbal praise and treat rewards that tell him he’s done a good job. It means you’re working as a tight, bonded team and he loves that. So, set your pet up for success by establishing consistent rules and setting expectations that let him know what’s required of him. Make them achievable and appropriate to his age, breed, and health, but ensure he knows what they are and that you celebrate together each time he delivers on them.

  • Physical Affection

While this may seem obvious, we don’t always deliver it in a way that is meaningful to our pet. Providing him with cushy beds or squeaky toys and playing games of catch in the backyard or to off-leash runs at the dog park, may feel like we’re showing our pet affection, but in actuality, we’re simply caring for them. The affection comes in the form of physical contact – snuggling on the sofa, rubbing his tummy, stroking his head, or grooming sessions that allow you to interact as you brush him out. Providing one-on-one contact with your pet is an ideal way to build a connection and develop a lasting bond.

  • Understand His Boundaries

Respect your dog’s boundaries. Whether fear-based (such as thunderstorms and fireworks), down to personal dislikes (my dogs hate to be brushed), or are a mistrust of strangers that you need to work through with him, don’t rush the solution. While the first step is to simply recognize the trigger, the next is to develop an action plan to overcome it. Offer rewards if your pet allows you to trim his nails or perform any other unpopular but necessary task. Check into Thunder-shirts that can help relieve stress or investigate de-sensitization practices. But forcing your pet into a confrontation will only break the bond you’ve worked so hard to