Can You Make a Dog More Affectionate?

by Jon Mohrman
    The simple act of playing fetch with your pooch helps make her more affectionate.

    The simple act of playing fetch with your pooch helps make her more affectionate.

    Eldad Carin/iStock/Getty Images

    To make your dog more affectionate, strengthen the bond between the two of you. It may sound like a monumental task, but it's really not. As the cliche says, dog is man's best friend. Our canine companions got this reputation largely because they're eager people-pleasers and because the human-dog bond naturally and easily grows over time with proper care and consistent attention.

    For your pet to be affectionate, she must trust you. From her perspective, you're trustworthy if you don't harm or scare her and if you meet her basic needs. Never physically discipline your dog, scream at her or strictly punish her; she learns through gentle corrections and positive reinforcement. She requires nutritious food and fresh water every day, a clean and safe environment, daily exercise, mental stimulation, a comforting space of her own to sleep and chill out when feeling stressed, plenty of attention, grooming, rules and limitations. And if you're looking for affection from her, it works both ways. Meet these fundamental needs and your dog quickly trusts you and becomes more loving.

    An established social order is another of your dog's basic needs. She's an innate pack animal, meaning she needs a dominant leader. Set rules and enforce them consistently. Train your dog to respond to basic commands and to perform a few tricks. Training is a great bonding activity that enhances affection and solidifies your role as pack leader. Remember, use mild corrections rather than negative reinforcement. For example, if your dog starts relieving herself in the wrong place, interrupt her and calmly lead her to where she's supposed to go. Then, when she finishes correctly, reward her. Positive reinforcement is the key to a happy, obedient and affectionate pet.

    Your dog is a social animal who craves attention and strongly desires to be part of the family. Don't shut her away for hours or isolate her. Pay attention to her throughout the day, every day. This doesn't mean an occasional pat on the head suffices. Engage with her. Talk to her, get on the floor with her, play games with her, take her outside, walk her, brush her, bring her to the dog park and otherwise interact with her in meaningful ways. This is a big part of your responsibility when you decide to share your home with a dog. The more attentive you are, the more affectionate your pet will be.

    While your dog needs to feel like part of the family, she also needs to spend time with you one-on-one to truly bond. It's important that everyone plays together, but spend some time alone with your dog daily, too. Go for a walk or out back to play, just the two of you. Training is ideal one-on-one time, since only one person should be the primary trainer. Face time is especially important if you have more than one dog. Dogs who spend all their time together tend to bond strongly with each other to the exclusion of the humans in the home. Break them up sometimes and take them out individually and you'll soon see more affection from all of them.

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    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.

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