Man’s best friend. A devoted sidekick. Your furry protector.
Your dog is likely one of the most loyal and dependable companions in your life. That’s why we love dogs so much. With the amount of happiness and positivity that our furry friends bring into our lives, we should like to bestow that level of joy and contentment back to them. Dogs are somewhat simple creatures. They do, however, thrive from healthy relationships including bonding with their owners. As much as we’d love pet ownership to be effortless, it’s a good idea to invest some time into the relationship you have with your dog and this means bonding.
The human-animal bond has evolved for more than 15,000 years. In the beginning, the main purpose of dog ownership was for them to provide protection and service to their owners. This could have been through hunting, farming and whatever other tasks were necessary. Dogs even contributed service to people during wartime. Besides providing protection, they also offered stress relief and a sense of pride to their human counterparts.
When we think about our relationship with pets today, it’d be obvious to say that they need us in order to meet the basic needs of food, water and shelter. As humans and pet owners, we attain a way deeper level of wellbeing from our animal friends. It’s actually been proven that our companion animals provide a variety of benefits to our life. This can include lower blood pressure and reduced stress not to mention lowering your chances of dying from heart disease. Furthermore, pets provide mental and emotional support to their owners, especially for the elderly, as well as for children during their emotional and behavioural development.
In theory, if you provide your dog with the basics for survival and throw in some extra love and cuddles, they should flourish, right? Well, in some cases this might work but if you really want to take the connection to your dog to the next level, there is a bit more to it. Every single pug, poodle, maltese, german shepherd and beagle will have different characteristics and needs. There is no one way to connect with your dog, you’ll have to experiment with what works for you and your special friend.
Number one? We suggest spending quality time with your dog everyday. This seems pretty obvious but if you spend most of your day outside of the home and lead a busy life, it can be easy to forget about the attention your dog deserves. Quality time can consist of long walks, playing fetch, practising tricks, trips to the beach or any other kind of quality playtime. All of these shared experiences strengthen the relationship with your dog and build connection.
Training! This is so important. If we want to connect with our dogs, we must be able to communicate with them and this includes the way we train. As much as we like to play as a way to spend quality time with our dogs, we also need to invest time into training at home. No matter what you are trying to achieve with your home training, just be sure to be clear and consistent with your chosen signals. If you establish that a certain visual signal is used to communicate a trick, then stick with it. If you add a vocal cue, your dog can become confused. It’s quite the same with human relationships, when communication is clear and consistent, it’s much easier to avoid confusion and miscommunications. The outcome should be a deeper connection and understanding between you and your dog and hopefully the achievement of a more obedient pooch.
Other ways to connect with your dog include:
There are a number of activities you and your dog can participate in to encourage bonding. Most of these can be done at home and will most likely provide both you and your dog hours of fun and satisfaction.
Hand feeding is one of the most common ways to bond with your dog. It is a technique used for training but also teaches your dog that you are the main source of treats and rewards. If you have a nervous or aggressive dog that feels like their food is in danger of being stolen, hand feeding will discourage their instinct to guard the bowl. Besides this, hand feeding is a great way to reinforce good behaviours of all kinds. It can also be useful in teaching your dog patience and control. This is possible by showing them that they will only receive food once they are calm and sitting patiently.
Furthermore, hand feeding is a valuable tool for dogs that have an inclination to bite. If you have a new or shy dog or a puppy, this is a great way to show them that they will only have access to food if they are gentle and not bitey. By hand feeding, they will learn to control their teeth around your fingers. You can do this by only opening your cupped hand enough that your dog can gently lick the kibble out.
Trust is such an important aspect of the human-animal relationship, or any type of relationship for that matter! Building trust with a new dog or puppy doesn’t happen overnight but luckily there are plenty of trust building activities you can try with your dog.
Grooming and bath time for your dog is arguably one of the funnier ways for us to spend time with our beloved pups. Whether your dog is a natural water lover or not, time spent together at the dog wash will definitely be a bonding experience.
Firstly, your dog loves attention and it’s safe to say that your full attention will be on them when they’re getting a wash. When a dog receives lots of attention from their owner, it certainly promotes a happy demeanor.
With regular visits to a DIY dog wash station, your dog will learn that it’s okay to allow their body and feet to be handled. It’s a sign that your dog trusts you if they are comfortable in this kind of vulnerable position, proving they feel safe and bonded to you.
A couple of grooming/dog wash tips:
It’s safe to say that your furry friend and their state of mind is super important to you. Being a dog owner and lover means you have a very special relationship that sometimes needs some work. Understanding the pet to human relationship is a good start but ultimately we need to put in some time and effort in order to build trust and create a bond with our dogs. If you want to connect to your dog on a deeper level then you should try some bonding and trust building exercises. By spending quality time with our dogs and engaging in a range of activities, you’ll be promoting the bond between you two. Investing the time in teaching them tricks, hand feeding, playing outside and regular grooming will make our dogs feel loved and attended to. After all, our pooches promote wellbeing for us, why wouldn’t we want them to feel safe, happy and bonded to us.