You chose to get a dog because you know how strong the canine-human bond can be. But just like with other humans, developing a strong connection with your dog takes time and effort. Your dog must learn to trust you and must come to feel like a member of the family. To strengthen your connection, you may even need to change some counterproductive behaviors that instill mistrust or fear. If you consistently work on your bond with your dog, it continues to grow, deepen and thrive over the years, perpetually getting stronger.
Tip #1 - Meet your dog's basic needs so that she quickly comes to trust you and value your relationship. Talk to your vet about feeding your dog the right quantities of the right foods. Make sure she gets out for a bathroom break often. Provide mental and physical stimulation throughout the day, every day.
Tip #2 - Play with your dog every day. Incorporate toys and gentle physical interaction. Pet and praise her as you have fun together.
Tip #3 - Train your dog to behave as you want her to. The training process creates a deep bond, and it also helps prevent inappropriate behavior that can interfere with your desire or ability to develop a stronger connection. Housebreak your dog, leash- and crate-train her and set limits. Teach her to obey basic commands such as "sit," "stay," "come" and "stop."
Tip #4 - Learn the proper techniques for different types of training. Consult reputable guides and your vet or trainer for advice. Effective, bond-promoting techniques generally revolve around quick, minor corrections and lot of positive reinforcement with praise, physical affection and yummy treats.
Tip #5 - Refrain from berating and punishing your dog. Never hit, kick or physically hurt her. This is a completely ineffective training tool, as dogs usually can't correlate the negative reinforcement with the exact behavior you're not happy with. These sorts of negative tactics only make your dog afraid of you and weaken your bond. They also exacerbate anxiety and stress, which cause your pet to suffer and interfere with healthy learning and bonding.
Tip #6 - Take your dog out of the house for exercise and play. Go for walks and on excursions to dog parks. Bring your dog along with you in the car sometimes, too.
Tip #7 - If you have multiple pets, make sure to spend time one-on-one with your dog. The deepest bonding occurs on the individual level. This also means you may have to tell other human members of the household to scram once in a while -- just make sure they get their turns for one-on-one time, too.
Tip #8 - Brush or comb your dog's coat daily. Even though dogs may not initially be too receptive, grooming is an important part of pet hygiene and care and strengthens your connection. Give your dog occasional baths, too. Grooming and bathing get easier over time, as your dog becomes accustomed to the processes.
Tip #9 - Get down on the floor with your dog sometimes when you play. You'll bond better if you're at the same level once in a while. Make eye contact, but never stare into your dog's eyes for more than a second or two; staring is a threatening behavior to dogs.
Tip #10 - Talk to your dog often every day in pleasant, upbeat, loving tones. Sure, she has no idea what you're saying, but she does understand that you're interacting with her positively and conveying love.
Tip #11 - Pet your dog often. Physical interaction is essential to bonding. Learn where she prefers to be rubbed and give her what she likes. Figure out what sort of physical interaction she doesn't appreciate, too, and skip it out of respect.
By Jon Mohrman
About the Author
Jon Mohrman has been a writer and editor for more than seven years. He specializes in food, travel and health topics. He attended the University of Pittsburgh for English literature and San Francisco State University for creative writing.