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how to bond with your dog for life

How to Bond with Your Dog for Life

Bonding with your dog doesn’t happen by chance. There are ten things you can do to form the bond of a lifetime with your dog.

  • Establish a routine together
  • Cuddle as your dog allows
  • Play together
  • Walk together
  • Feed on a schedule
  • Spend time grooming
  • Pet your dog
  • Gaze at your dog
  • Hold training sessions
  • Learn how to talk to your dog

How to Bond with Your Dog in 10 Steps 

We want to be clear that you shouldn’t view these steps too clinically. These are guidelines and helpful ideas to get the bonding process going, and they should always be backed with affection and genuine emotion. Dogs, like people, want genuine connection and can sniff out when you’re faking it.

Establish a Routine Together 

You might not think of creating a bathroom schedule as a way to bond with your dog. But dogs are creatures of habit and when you develop a routine together, you show your dog that you’re in sync.

It doesn’t have to be all business, though. Add some play to your morning routine to make it a true bonding experience.

When Zuzu, a member of the Pet Living family, was a puppy, she would always play with her human dad for about an hour every morning after going to the bathroom. 

Now that she’s older, she still gets up early (even if she doesn’t really have to go) because she looks forward to their routine together. They go outside, get a snack, and then fall back asleep together on the sofa.

Cuddle as Your Dog Allows

This one really depends on your dog’s comfort level with hugging and cuddling.

Some dogs love to snuggle, and most of their humans love it too. Curling up on the couch and watching TV together is a simple but effective way to bond with your dog and enjoy your time together.

But if your dog isn’t a classic snuggler, don’t force it. Some dogs cuddle in different ways, like putting their paw on you, which is their version of a hug.

Play Together

Playing together requires a lot of hands-on interaction, which dogs love. Plus it’s good for both of you! 

For some dogs, playing involves fetching a ball or toy with seemingly endless energy. For others, tug of war is the name of the game. Find what games your dog loves the most to maximize your fun and bonding together.

And consistency is key! Playing once a week or once a month isn’t enough. Dogs need regular play and mental stimulation to stay happy – and to stay bonded to their people.

For example, Zuzu has an evening routine with her human mom where they play together every day after dinner. 

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Walk Together

Walks are about more than bathroom time. Shared experiences are a great way to bond with anyone – human or animal – and walks are a wonderful experience you both can share. 

Besides being great exercise, they’re an opportunity for you and your dog to take in the same sights and sounds (although your dog smells a lot more than you do!).

Feed On a Schedule

You are your dog’s provider and (in most cases) their only source of food. When you feed them, they naturally bond with you. Feeding your dog at regular times also increases their trust in you since they know they count on you to take care of them.

feed your dog on a schedule to bond with your dog

Free feeding, while convenient, takes away this bonding and trust-building opportunity since your dog doesn’t necessarily associate you with the food they’re eating throughout the day.

Spend Time Grooming

This is another bonding opportunity that really depends on your dog’s preferences. While all dogs need grooming from time to time, for some dogs it’s not just a chore but a really enjoyable experience.

If your dog loves a good brushing, take advantage of that and take the time to really enjoy the experience with them. Some dogs will even lean into you while you do it.

Pet Your Dog

This one may be obvious, but it’s a tried and true bonding method for a reason. Petting your dog is enjoyable for both of you, and it offers health benefits as well!

Petting your dog lowers stress and blood pressure while also causing the release of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that increases bonding.

Gaze at Your Dog

Notice we’re not saying “stare.” Staring can seem confrontational to a dog, and the last thing you want to do is start a fight with your new furry friend. 

how to bond with your dog - gaze lovingly

Gazing at your dog is when you’re cuddling together and having a bonding moment. When they gaze back at you, it releases oxytocin.

Hold Training Sessions

While training might not seem like a bonding experience at first glance, it’s actually a great way to strengthen your connection with your dog. 

That’s because training your dog requires constant communication between you and your dog. Your dog will be watching your every move and getting to know your voice and body language. 

Whether it’s just fun tricks or important, potentially lifesaving commands like “stay” or “come,” don’t miss out on training to bond with your dog.

Learn How to Talk to Your Dog

Dogs respond to the tone of your voice, so it’s important to use one that endears you to your dog. 

Especially when dealing with puppies, it can be easy to get frustrated. The chewing, damage, and occasional accident that comes with puppies isn’t fun. 

However, if you’re constantly using a tone that expresses your frustration or anger when they do something they shouldn’t, your dog is more likely to develop a fear of you.

FAQs About Bonding with Your Dog

How long does it take for a dog to bond with you?

This varies a lot from dog to dog and person to person. On average, it takes two weeks to two months for a dog to bond with you. This time is usually shorter for puppies and longer for adult dogs. It’s easiest to bond with a dog when it’s between 8 and 12 weeks of age.

How do dogs pick their favorite person?

Most dogs gravitate towards the person who’s most like them in both energy and personality. Just as important is how that person treats them. At the end of the day, whoever gives them the most time, love, and attention is likely to become their favorite human.

Should you let your dog sleep with you?

Sleeping with your dog can lower anxiety and definitely help you bond. However, it’s important to be aware of the possible cons. If you have asthma or allergies, your dog’s fur can aggravate them. Some dogs react defensively if woken up suddenly, which could lead to an accidental bite. Always make sure your dog is clean and free of parasites before letting them sleep with you.

Why do dogs put their paw on you?

They’re trying to communicate with you. They’re usually either telling you they like you or telling you they need something. Dogs learn very quickly that we put our hands on them to show we care, and they also see how happy it makes us when they return the gesture. They also may be asking for some pets and attention. Other times, they’re trying to tell you they’re hungry or need to go to the bathroom.

The Tail End

Bonding with our dogs takes time, but it’s completely worth it. If you make the effort to gain your dog’s trust and forge that deep connection with them, you’ll have one of the best friendships possible – one that lasts a lifetime.

For even more helpful tips on how to bond with your dog for life, get your free ebook by clicking below!

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Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert, influencer, and Fear Free Certified® Professional with over 30 years of experience working with pets.

Through this blog and her book, Pampered Pets on a Budget, Kristen has helped millions of pet parents solve problems and provide the best care for their dogs and cats.

Working alongside hundreds of pet professionals, including veterinarians, behaviorists and trainers inspired Kristen to become a pet parenting “guide”, providing readers with reliable information about health, wellness and lifestyle for dogs and cats and the people who love them.

A dogged advocate for pet adoption and rescue, Kristen has featured over 1,000 adoptable dogs and cats from the SPCA on live television and radio appearances to get them adopted. Her blog, has been featured in over 100 media outlets – including the New York Times, USA Today, FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, Women's Day, Reader's Digest, Good Housekeeping, Pop Sugar and more.

To stay up to date on the latest health and lifestyle trends for pets, Kristen regularly attends the top veterinary and pet product conferences, where she’s often a featured speaker.

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