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Tips for Bonding with your New Dog



Bringing home a new dog is a fun-filled occasion for the whole family.  However, pets are often returned within a short period of time because the new animal is not immediately meeting expectations.  For many first-time pet owners, they mistakenly believe the dog will instantly create a bond with its new family, and can be disappointed and frustrated when this expectation is not met.  Tips for jumpstarting the bonding process with your pet are outlined below.

Obedience Training
One of the best ways to begin bonding with your dog is to attend a structured obedience class.  The positive environment with a seemingly never-ending supply of treats will teach you and your dog how to communicate with one other.  Communication is one of the most important components of bonding, and will help you better understand the needs of your pet and vice versa.  Look for a positive-reinforcement training class in order to get the most out of the bonding experience.

Socialization outings are fun for pets, which is why socializing your dog is an important way to develop a deeper connection between pet and owner.  When your dog associates fun times and happiness with a particular person, it will come to enjoy the company of that person more quickly.  Socialization outings can include taking your pet to dog-friendly locations, such as the pet store or to a dog-friendly restaurant patio.

Like humans, exercise promotes the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain like endorphins and dopamine.  When you and your dog exercise together, your pet will begin to associate happy feelings with your presence.  Forms of exercise include hiking, running, swimming, and cycling (via bike attachment).

In many ways, dogs and human toddlers are similar:  the people that play games with them quickly become their favorite.  Fun games to play with your pet include tug-of-war, fetch, hide-and-go-seek, and tag.

Maintaining Routine
Dogs thrive on routine and do best when meals, exercise, play times, and sleep are always on schedule.  The sooner your pet can develop a set routine and understands what to expect throughout the day, the quicker it will feel comfortable in its new environment.

Setting Boundaries
When dogs first join a new household, they will spend weeks learning the rules of the new home.  The sooner you set boundaries the more quickly your pet will learn the ins and outs of your own “pack.”  This will lead to less worry about determining hierarchy among the household members – leaving more time and energy for getting to know one another better!

Overall, pet owners should have patience.  Bonding does not happen overnight, and it may take longer for some pets to feel comfortable in their new surroundings.  Puppies may be scared after being separated from their families and pets that have come from abusive backgrounds or traumatic situations may need time to learn how to trust.  The most important aspect of bonding with your pet is not expecting a great relationship to be built overnight.

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Anna Weber

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