So sometimes, a dog’s favorite person is not always their primary caregiver. How do dogs choose their favorite person? And is it possible to change their minds?
Of course, every dog is different, but some generalizations apply.
Many dogs bond hardest to whoever cares for them during their key socialization period, which occurs between birth and six months. At this age, puppies’ brains are incredibly receptive, and their early social experiences influence them for the rest of their lives. That’s why it’s so important to ensure your puppy has positive interactions with a wide range of people, places, and things.
Attention (and affection) increases the bond
Most dogs tend to bond to the person who gives them the most attention. For example, in a family with two parents and two kids, the dog may favor the parent who fills their bowl every morning and takes them for a walk every evening. But for some dogs, it’s not just the amount of attention and affection that matter, but the quality.
Positive association is key
Of course, a dog is going to love the person who always plays tug of war or gives them loads of their favorite treat. On the flipside, dogs often react poorly to people with whom they have bad associations (like the vet). Positive associations lead to positive dog-human relationships.
Human personality and dog breed play a part
Dogs often choose a favorite person who matches their own energy level and personality. In addition, some dog breeds are more likely to bond to a single person, making it more likely that their favorite person will be their only person.
How to become your dog’s favorite person
If you have the feeling you’re not your dog’s favorite person, don’t despair. You can improve and increase the bond between you. The easiest (and most fun) way is to spend at least 30 minutes of focused, one-on-one time together each day. This doesn’t include walks, yard time, or watching TV together. Your bonding time should be active and focused.
- Play fetch, tug, or hide and seek.
- Have a training session. Working on new skills, or reinforcing old ones, is a great way to bond!
- Try a sport like agility or flyball where you and your dog can work together as a team.
- Food (in healthy, appropriate quantities) is love. Aim for wholesome protein sources with limited fillers, and try some homemade meals for your dog. Make meal time a bonding activity by integrating eye contact.
- Give your dog a grooming session or massage.
Bonding occurs naturally between dogs and the people who treat them well. Take good care of your dog, socialize him, give him positive experiences, and respect his unique personality.