Human - Dog Bond Basics: What it is, Why It Matters and How To Boost It
The human-dog bond is the foundation of your entire relationship with your dog. It’s based on respect, care, trust and love. Once formed, it usually exists for life.
We know from our own experience with the Tug-E-Nuff dogs just how powerful and important the human-dog bond is - and we know our customers feel the same.
In fact, in our 2022 Play Survey, 88% of dog owners told us playing with their dog boosts their bond.
In this article, we want to take a closer look at what the human-dog bond is, why it matters and how to boost it.
What is the human-dog bond?
For generations, dogs have been known as ‘man’s best friend’ - and it’s easy to see why.
Some scientists have even taken this a step further, arguing that rather than humans domesticating dogs, dogs domesticated humans - with wolves seeking out the company of our ancestors, purely for companionship.
It’s hard to know exactly how it happened, of course, but there’s certainly always been something special about the relationship we share with canines.
Why is bonding with your dog so important?
It’s widely agreed by behavioural experts that bond plays a vital role in training. Dogs that are well bonded to their owner learn faster and are overall much easier to train (of course, all dogs are different and if a dog is ‘difficult’ to train it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a relationship issue).
A strong bond also directly correlates with confidence and generally makes for a happier, more connected life together.
How to bond with your dog
Bonding and forming a strong relationship with your dog doesn’t happen overnight - it takes time and patience to build and maintain.
Here are three proven ways to improve your bond with your dog…
1. Play tug!
Interactive play, especially tug, is a tried-and-tested way to boost bonds. It’s a chance to enjoy quality interactive time with your dog, helping make the bond and connection you share even more powerful.
And it’s not just us saying it.
2. Work on recall
If you can trust your dog to come back when you call them (even if there are other dogs, squirrels or scents to distract them), you are likely to enjoy less stressful walks and be happier to give them freedom to roam off-leash.
Recall training can be a challenge, but a solid recall and a solid bond go hand in hand, so it’s worth putting in the effort.
3. Make time for cuddles
Giving your dog your undivided attention (that means not looking at your phone or watching TV) for just a few minutes a day can have a powerful positive impact on your bond.
Lots of dogs don’t like a ‘cuddle’ around their necks, but most will love the opportunity to curl up with you for tummy rubs and tickles - or even just to sit next to you while you groom or massage them.
5 signs of a strong bond with your dog
If you’re wondering whether you and your dog share a strong bond, there are clear signs that you can look for…
- A solid recall. That means returning to you when you call them, even if there are distractions (this can be a work in progress for lots of dogs, and that’s OK)
- Regular check-ins. A well-bonded dog will keep tabs on your location when off lead and regularly look up at you when walking on-lead
- Eagerness to learn. Dogs that are bonded listen well and are eager to please during training
- A wagging tail. Dogs with a strong bond are happy to see you and enjoy physical affection
- Preference for proximity. Well-bonded dogs prefer to be near you, but can cope when you’re not there