Dogs and humans have been living together for over 20 THOUSAND years, there is no stronger bond than that! Initially, humans domesticated and bred dogs to work for us. A sort of symbiotic relationship where they could help us hunt, herd, and even offer protection.
Our dog's "will to please" is unmatched, and if we give them quality time, they continue to show us this is many ways.
Since many of us do not herd or hunt much any more, we have found other purposes for dogs to remain in our lives, sometimes just as a loving companion!
I would say the biggest part of a bond is making a routine out of joint activities, not just doing them once and expecting results. Some of the positive changes you will see in your dog may take a month or two of constant doing. Once you see the results you will never go back.
If you think about the relationship between farmer and sheep herder, for example, there is a lot of active time spent together to form a great bond while working together. Even if there are no open fields of sheep in your backyard, the concept is still the same. Here are great ways to bond more with your dog.
1. Quality Time
We are all super busy, but as dog owners spending quality time is a great way to relax as well. Take a half hour and give your dog lots of attention. Let them run, take them for a walk, or just sit on the couch and pet them! Forget the phone and tv for a while, try to remain present while doing so!
If you observe other people walking their dogs while you are driving by, you will probably see the person on their phone, the dog stopping to sniff something, and the owner just pulling them away from it. If you are in a hurry once or twice, understandable! Taking that time to let the dog sniff around and explore with their nose actually helps decrease their anxiety from staying in the house all day. It also opens up their explorative instincts, so take interest in what they are sniffing!
If your dog is ball driven (I wish… Nala is a professional chipmunk chaser), that is a perfect way to let some excess energy out and practice commands!
Make a habit of spending distraction-free quality time with your dog, and watch the benefits you reap (seriously, put the phone down!).
2. Treat Your Dog
As dog owners, we know one thing. I just don’t want to say it too loud, but I’ll spell it for you so Nala doesn’t think she’s getting a T-R-E-A-T.
Dogs love treats!
Nala absolutely loves all kinds of bones, but she is quite the crazy chewer! I learned sustainably harvested Moose Antlers last the longest. This way she can chew to her hearts content, and not ingest tons of bone in one sitting. It saves her belly, and my wallet! One large Moose Antler can last easily 3-4 months of heavy chewing.
Bite sized treats, whether store bought or homemade, are another great option. Many dog owners prefer to use treat time as a way to train their dogs. Great idea! Dogs want to work for you, so give them a job and they will earn that treat from your hand. Bonding 101!
3. Daily Grooming
Whether it be petting, hugging, massaging, or grooming your furry friend, these all release the feel-good chemical oxytocin in both you and your dog.
The dog I grew up with, Syrus, was a small mutt that shed his long hair all over. He passed 2 years ago, and I swear I am still finding his hair in unexpecting corners of the house. Anyways, I used to groom him every day to help with this, and it would make him feel good! It calmed him down so much.
When Nala entered the picture, she wanted to be brushed too, even with her short hair! When I’d finish up with Syrus, Nala was up next. Same brush, just gentle strokes to pretend like I’m grooming her, and voila: two happy and relaxed pups!
Make sure to incorporate those ear scratches too.
4. Take Your Dog On Adventures
Go explore the great outdoors with your pup! Whether it is a local park or a long mountain hike, this is something many of us could do more often. For many of us, working from home for over a year has felt confining (although some rant and rave about it!). Imagine most of your dog’s life is spent in your living room! No new things to see, smell, or dig at.
Exploring offers the senses a break from monotony, and your dog will appreciate and love you that much more for making a routine out of it.
5. Snuggle Up!
This one is a no brainer, but physical contact is very pleasant for most dogs. The highest level of trust for your dog is sleeping in the same bed as them (even if they do take up the entire bed.. Seriously how do they do it?).
Maybe your dog isn’t a lapdog, but you can always enjoy little steps forward when they look for your affection. If your dog isn’t cuddly, don’t force it! Some dogs prefer their space, and a little pet can go a long way.
6. Build Great Communication
I’m leaving this one for last because it is so important. The more you understand how your dog communicates to you, the easier bonding with them can be! Watch for signs of comfort, discomfort, need and desire.
Obviously this doesn’t mean you feed them steak off the table just because they want it, but if you can learn the visual signs your dog gives you when they want or need something, they feel heard and understood. It is a language in its own trying to communicate with dogs, considering the language gap!
When you set clear guidelines for your dog to follow, rooted in reasonable expectations, their enters a sort of harmony in the home that was not there as much before you figured this out. Remember, your dog wants to serve you and work for you in any way possible.
Here are 6 Ways To Bond With Your Dog. The more you do these things, the more your dog will respect and listen to you. Set up a routine in your busy day for your dog, and the rewards you will reap will be very noticeable! Your dog will listen to you more, show their affection a lot more, and be overall a calmer and happier pup. All for a half hour per day? Sign me up!