Ways to Bond With a New Puppyby Eric Mohrman
Bonding with your new puppy provides the foundation for a strong lifelong relationship. On a basic level, bonding with your pup is like bonding with another person. Show your puppy kindness and respect, care for her, give her time and attention and otherwise demonstrate that you love her. Of course, there are differences, too; housebreaking and sit training are more important for bonding with your puppy than with your spouse or friends... hopefully.
Meet Basic Needs
Bonding with a puppy begins with fostering her trust. An effective way to do this is to meet her basic needs so she views you as a provider. Your puppy needs healthy food, fresh water, toys, a cozy place to lie down and sleep, attention, physical and verbal affection, walks and other physical activity, mental stimulation, comfort when she's scared or stressed, grooming, medical and veterinary care, love and even limits, just as a child does. Discuss your new pet's nutrition, calorie and exercise needs and other aspects of basic care with your vet to be sure you're supplying her with everything she requires to be happy and healthy. This is the first step toward a lifetime bond that only deepens as time passes.
The process of training -- when done correctly -- is a powerful way to bond with your new puppy. At the very least, housebreak your puppy and teach her a few commands, including "sit," "stay," "come" and "speak." Training procedures help establish your dominant role, which your dog needs to recognize, and they provide opportunities for you to pay meaningful attention to your puppy, during which deep bonding occurs. Proper training also ensures your puppy won't behave in ways that upset you or interfere with bonding. It will probably be a little trying at times, but remain upbeat and patient. Training should involve prompt but gentle corrections when your puppy does something you don't want her to do and effusive positive reinforcement with praise, petting and treats when she does what you do want. Training should not involve physical or emotional punishment or yelling. These things only make your puppy afraid of you and prevent bonding.
Giving your new puppy lots of attention is essential to her health and happiness and to your bond. She requires lots of physical and mental stimulation, and the more of it that comes from you, the stronger your bond will grow. Spend a little time with her at her level, on the floor, every day. Talk to her in pleasant tones of voice; she may not have any idea what you're saying, but she knows that you're communicating to connect with her. Play games with her and take her for walks outside daily. Run through the yard with her and play fetch, tug-of-war and roll around with her. Don't skimp on the physical attention, either; caress and pet your puppy often.
The strongest bonding between a dog and a person occurs one-on-one. If you have multiple pets in your household, make time for your new puppy when it's just the two of you. Go out in the yard, for walks or to the dog park together sometimes. This doesn't mean you can't do things with all your pets at the same time, just that you shouldn't always do things that way. Remember, the other people in your home should do the same, so they too can develop a strong bond with your new furry family member. Don't neglect older pets; they too should have some one-on-one time with you and the others.
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images