Bonding with Your New Dog

Dogs of all ages move into new homes all the time. Whether we adopt a young puppy, a dog that is a few years old, or a senior citizen, the bonding that takes place between you and your new dog is extremely important. Bonding with puppies frequently occurs relatively quickly and without much apparent effort on your part. This is because many of the things we like to do with puppies — playing snuggling etc. – promotes bonding. Older dogs sometimes have a more difficult time bonding, especially if they have abuse or neglect in their history. These dogs may have to overcome fear and anxiety issues before bonding can take place. This requires new owners to be patient, caring and attentive while the bonding progresses more slowly than usual.

With all dogs, basic obedience training that is reward based and conducted within an easy and fun format promotes bonding. It allows you and your dog to spend time in which you focus on one another and pleasant things (rewards) happen on a regular basis. It also brings your new dog’s behavior in line with your expectations giving the dog clear messages regarding the behaviors you like to see exhibited and that you are likely to reward.

There are also situations and behaviors that make bonding more difficult. If you adopt a young dog into a household with an already established dog, you will need to be sure that the new dog bonds with you as well as with your other dog. This may require separating the dogs while you practice basic obedience skills with your new dog. But also make sure that you spend one-on-one time with your older dog as well so that jealously doesn’t become a problem.

Harsh training methods will also interrupt healthy bonding. Things like yelling, swatting, and appearing domineering will frighten a dog and prevent both learning and bonding. Using these methods may result in a dog that behaves out of fear rather than out of a desire to please and be close to you.

Having oversized expectations of your new dog’s behavior and then acting frustrated or angry when they are not met will also make bonding extremely difficult. This sometimes happens when we compare our new puppy’s behavior to a past dog’s adult behavior forgetting that the earlier dog started as a puppy too and only became “that great dog” through bonding, training, maturity and patience. Given these things, your new dog has just as much of a chance of becoming a great dog as did your previous companion.

Taking the time to strongly bond with your new dog will lead to a relationship that is loving, rewarding and lasting. A little patience in the beginning leads to a life of happiness in the end so don’t skip the bonding process.