7 Ways to Tell a Dog You Love Them
How to Become Close With Your Dog
Caring for your dog requires a great deal of work. However, if you put the effort in you can be rewarded with a loving, close relationship. To build the bond with your dog it is important to pay attention to their individual preferences regarding food, space, and play. Spend time together whenever possible, even when just relaxing around the house. To get more active, enroll in a sporting class or teach your dog a few new tricks.
Embracing Your Dog's Unique Personality
Be calm around your dog.It’s not always easy to tell whether your dog came from a place where it was cared for or a place where it wasn't, like a puppy mill or kill shelter. If you adopted from a shelter then you know at one point it was left alone. Be aware of the emotional (and sometimes physical) baggage your dog may carry when interacting with you. Try to be a tranquil, calm, and unthreatening presence.
- For example, speak in soothing tones and avoid any quick hand gestures or movements when near your dog.
Be observant of body language.Dogs communicate through their bodies. If you pay attention to how your dog moves then you will get an indication as to its feelings. Your dog may consistently wag his tail, only stopping when it feels scared. Your dog might also narrow his eyes at a potential threat. Knowing these cues allows you to better respond to your dog’s needs.
- A dog that is fearful or stressed out may lower its ears and body, preparing for a possible defensive strike. The dog's eyes may dilate and it may begin panting in a rapid pace. Nose wrinkling is a sign of aggression possibly triggered by fear.
Establish a safe space for your dog.Almost all dogs crave privacy at one point or another. Designate a dog bed, folded blanket, old chair, or crate as the territory of your dog. This is a place where your dog can go to relax or chew on a bone. You might also leave treats or toys there as well. Giving your dog the space that it needs will only enhance your bond.
- Make sure that the rest of your home is safe for your dog as well. Relocate all toxic chemicals to an inaccessible area. Hide any electrical cords. It may be necessary to use safety gates to cordon off certain areas.
Respect your dog’s individual likes and dislikes.Not all dogs are the same. After you spend some time with your pet you will start to see certain preferences emerge. Your dog may hate (or love) to walk on concrete. Your dog may be afraid of the snow or rain. Your dog may enjoy dry food, but not wet. Remember these preferences and act on them in the future.
- Part of this is also about setting your dog up to be successful. Don’t put your dog into situations that are obviously uncomfortable for him. For example, it is probably not a good idea to take your dog to a fireworks show.
Establish a feeding routine.This routine will very much depend on the preferences of your dog. Most dogs need to be fed twice a day while others do better with only one feeding. Experiment with various food brands and types until you find one that your dog enjoys the most. Make sure that you are the only one doing the feeding and your dog will bond with you even more.
Spending Down Time Together
Chill out at home.If you are cooking or cleaning the house, get your dog to tag along with you. If you are lounging on the couch watching TV, have your dog jump on up and snuggle with you. You can even talk to your dog during these moments as that will help you both to bond too.
Take long walks or hikes.You can tailor your outdoor experience depending on your dog's breed. A small dog can participate in a hike if carried in an open pack whereas a large dog can probably trot alongside you. Dogs enjoy the outdoors because there are so many new smells and sensations. Paying attention to what your dog finds fascinating will also help you to view the same old path in a new light.
- Keep safety in mind when venturing outside with your dog. Make sure to apply repellent to your dog's fur if you are hiking somewhere with ticks or other pests. Offer water frequently to your dog and watch out for overheating or dehydration, often signaled by a slight shaking or excessive panting.
- To keep your dog interested in the outdoors feel free to try out new places. Don't get stuck in a routine that may be boring to you both.
Play.Try to discover what types of play your dog enjoys the most. Some like to play fetch whereas others prefer hide and seek. Be creative and mix up your play time to experiment with new activities. Just be careful that your play does not bring out feelings of aggression within your dog, as tug of war can sometimes do.
- When you are playing and bonding with your dog, make a point to put your cell phone away.
- To keep your play sessions fresh you may want to rotate out toys every week or so. There are even subscription services online that, for a fee, will send you fresh toys at set intervals. To find a service like this search online for "pet toy delivery."
Go out on the town.Hit your favorite dog friendly restaurant or café. Go to a festival or public park with your dog in tow. Take a walk in your local pet-friendly outdoor shopping area. Try to incorporate your dog into your regular social activities. You will find that it is much easier than you think.
- With all of this running around just make sure to offer your dog ample water.
Break from routine.Dogs do well with a schedule, however, it is sometimes useful to mix things up a little. This is especially the case if your dog appears bored. So, do your same routine with a slight variation. Go to a different dog park. Change your walking path. Introduce a new toy. Your dog will then trust you to get them safely through this new experience.
Reward positive behaviors.You can praise your dog by offering verbal encouragement or even treats. Just keep the positive reinforcement coming. This shows your dog that their good behavior is noticed and that they are an important part of your family. A confident dog is a happy dog. It is easy to offer praise when you first get a pet, but make sure that you keep this up over time too.
- Offer up positive encouragement for minor actions as well. If your dog waits patiently at the door or doesn’t beg at dinner there is nothing wrong with offering a quick treat. Couple this with a smile and a happy, “Good job!”
- Remember that treats don’t have to break the bank. Most dogs will be satisfied with a few frozen peas or a small piece of cheese.
Offer gentle correction for negative behaviors.Your dog is also bound to mess up and when this happens it is your job to stay calm and instruct them in the proper behaviors. When your dog misbehaves it is enough to simply say, “No,” in a firm voice. Do not, under any circumstances, use physical force to correct your dog.
Developing New Skills Together
Take a basic obedience class together.This is a great starting point for dogs unfamiliar with a class experience. Many pet stores offer obedience classes geared to particular groups of dogs from puppies to seniors. This is a great way to build a bond of trust with your dog as you learn about obedience techniques in tandem.
- Continue to get bonding benefits by practicing what you’ve learned once the class is over. Work on the basic commands of sit and stay with your dog. Make these exercises even more challenging by practicing in a public place, such as a park.
Prepare for the Canine Good Citizen Test.This test is offered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and reflects a dog's ability to interact with its surrounding in a peaceful and productive manner. You can prepare your dog for this test by taking classes emphasizing socialization in public settings. This process will make your dog more comfortable being with you in public places, allowing you to spend even more time together.
- For more information on Canine Good Citizen classes, visit the AKC website. This site will direct you to class options while providing you with more information about the testing process as well.
Train for sport.You can work with your dog to develop agility skills or even the speed necessary to do well at flyball (a relay race sport involving chasing a tennis ball). These are also great ways to meet other dog owners and exchange information and advice. Your dog will also be happy to meet new canine friends.
- Note that many canine sports have age restrictions in place for competitions. For example, a dog generally must be over 2 years old in order to compete in a flyball tournament.
Master a set of tricks.You’ve probably already tried some version of this with your dog. Trick training focuses on teaching your dog a set of interesting skills that can be performed, such as shaking hands. Use positive reinforcement and frequent treats to get your dog to enjoy the process and learn at the same time. When you are confident in your dog’s skills take him to the park to show off a bit.
- Make time for a bit of a nap (for you and your dog) after a training session. Learning new trick moves can be exhausting for your pet, even in a low pressure setting.
Pursue additional specialty training.Consider enrolling your dog in a therapy program. This is a great way to help others while bonding with your pet. Search online for a good Pet Therapy program near you and contact them for additional information. Be aware that you will most likely need to pay a registration fee to get the process started.
QuestionHow do you snuggle with your dog?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt really depend on the dog's comfort preferences and yours as well. You could pull your dog up into your lap or get him to jump up there as well. You could lay down on the couch or floor with your dog beside you. You could let your dog on your bed and snuggle there. Or, you could have your dog sit on the floor while you pet and rub its head.Thanks!
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