Just like humans, it is important for animals to develop close relationships with the ones they love. Normally, you would expect your pup to have a stronger bond with you, their primary caregiver, however, it does not always happen that way. Sound familiar?
Sometimes, a dog’s favorite person may be one that does not actually take care of them 24/7. So how do dogs choose their favorite person and is it possible to change their minds along the way? Read on to find out more about why dogs become attached to that one person and what triggers them to behave in this way.
The Root of the Behavior
You’d think that if you provide the most time, care and attention to our dog, you get to be their favorite person in the whole wide world, but that is not always true. Their key socialization period is of utmost importance in establishing who gets to be the true master. Up until six months, your pup will form their strongest bonds with whoever cares for them during this period. It is important to state that puppies are not the only ones capable of forming such strong bonds, as perfect companionship can be formed between dogs and humans regardless of age, gender, or breed.
Such is the case of sleeping alongside one person, spending the majority of time with that one individual, or providing a safe and supportive environment to the dog, especially if he was rescued, adopted, or bought from an animal shelter. At the same time, physical affection does solidify the bond between a dog and a person. If you offer them treats, spend one-on-one time with them every day, if you give them grooming sessions, massages, and plenty of love, they will respond in a positive manner.
In other words, when a person is the source of all good things, the dog will form a connection with them. Chemistry and bonding go hand in hand, so pay attention to his natural body language. If your voice, movement, and overall demeanor make your dog feel comfortable, at ease, and attached, you are on the path to powerful bonding. Do not underestimate your dog’s ability to associate you with a negative feeling, as it will cause them to be stand-offish towards you. Furthermore, do not yell or physically discipline your dog. Instead, be sure to always reward and praise him when he gives you attention. You can see how much you mean to them by observing their behavior around you: dropped-down ears, rolling over and wagging their tail are just some of the ways they like to show affection.
Encouraging the Behavior
If you feel you are not your dog’s favorite person, don’t fret. There are ways you can reinforce your relationship and let them see how much they mean to you. Spending at least 30 minutes a day, playing with your pup is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways of strengthening your bond. This does not include walks, yard time, or watching TV together. The goal here is to have an active and focused time. Consider playing fetch, tug, or hide and seek, have a training session with them, work on new skills, or try a sport where you and your dog can work together as a team. In addition to this, you can feed him wholesome protein sources with limited fillers and try some homemade meals, after all… food is love. Taking your dog for a simple walk around the neighborhood or an enjoyable car ride can also help strengthen your bond. Furthermore, you can encourage your pup to socialize with other trained dogs, while out for your daily walks. Giving him just the right amount of physical and mental stimulation will reassure your dog that all you mean is true welfare, and thus increase the amount of trust they have in you.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Taking good care of your dog, socializing, and giving him positive experiences will surely help strengthen your relationship. Still, if you feel you are not there yet, you should consider the quality of your bonding. In other words, it is not just the amount of attention and affection that matters, it is also the quality of time you spend together. Do not ignore your pup when he seeks attention and does not play too rough, or your efforts may have reversed effects. As the perfect leader, you have to ensure your dog gets proper care and treatment in all areas of their lives.
Of course, your dog is going to love the person who always plays around with them and brings them their daily meals. If you do not want to feel left out, make sure you cater properly to their needs and affection. This way you will be able to use positive associations to help in training and socializing your dog to your advantage.