Creating a strong bond with your puppy is fundamental for its future happiness and well being. Adopting a puppy brings in a whole new dimension of excitement, and building a relationship with your new furry sidekick is not as difficult as you might think!
Just like any relationship, building a strong bond takes time. But there are some simple steps you can take for a smoother transition into pet ownership. To enrich the relationship between the two of you, here are 10 pointers to help you get you started.
1. Spend Time Cuddling
We'll start with the easiest one. Who can resist cuddling and petting that adorable furry ball of cuteness?! Physical contact is one of the best ways you can bond with your puppy. It creates a sense of safety and comfort that lets your dog know that he’s part of the family.
Take some time to just chill on the couch, or sit on the floor for some relaxing cuddle time with your Doodle. Any one-on-one time that you share with your puppy will help to grow your bond.
2. Be Consistent With Rules
Consistency is an important part of bonding. Make sure that you’re being consistent and clear with both the words you use and nonverbal signals, whether in training or daily routine.
Being consistent also means making sure all individuals in the household are on the same page when it comes to training. Having different rules depending on who's giving the orders is the surefire way to confuse a dog.
Sit down with other members of your family and agree on what behaviors are acceptable, and which ones are not, and stick to them. You will avoid a lot of frustration and confusion if everyone is involved in the bonding process.
3. Stick To A Schedule
The third step to developing a strong bond with your puppy is sticking to a schedule. Dogs are creatures of habit, and they thrive on routine.
Build trust by creating and maintaining a regular routines such as potty breaks, and feeding times. Dogs like to know what is expected of them, and letting them know what you want helps them get comfortable around you.
4. Allow Independence
This is a big one. As much as one-on-one cuddle time is important, giving your puppy some space is equally important. Allow your pup to the opportunity to (safely) explore and discover his surroundings on his own terms.
Sometimes the way to build a stronger bond with your dog is to give him a place where he can be alone.
Consider giving him his own comfy bed, crate, or safe spot where he can retreat to when he’s tired, or simply just wants to chill.
If your dog does retreat to his special place, don't take it personally. Being in a brand new place can be overwhelming.
Your pup needs some alone time to process and adjust, which brings us to our next tip.
5. Take It Slow
Take a moment to imagine yourself in your new puppy's place. Everything familiar is gone.
Instead you're surrounded by strangers in an unknown place. You're being swamped with an overload of new sights, sounds, and smells, and you have no clue what to expect.
It would be a bit scary, wouldn't it?
Things can look a bit scary to your puppy too, especially at first. To you, it might sound like fun to throw a huge "welcome home" party in honor of your new puppy, but to your Doodle, a group of strangers crowding him might be a bit overwhelming.
Yes, socializing your puppy is important, but take things one step at a time. Consider your puppy's needs and let him go at his own pace.
Forcing your puppy to “deal with it” when he’s stressed or uncomfortable could lead to fear and aggression.
6. Engage in Playtime
Here's a fun way to bond with your puppy! Puppies have a vast amount of energy - not only is playing with your buddy great for bonding, it also gives your pup a safe outlet for all that energy!
There are many great options when it comes to playtime. Have a game of tug-of-war. Show your pup how to fetch various objects such as balls, frisbees, or food-dispensing toys.
Hide some treats around the house and teach your Doodle to "Find It!" Or for variation, go hide and call your dog, and then give him a treat when he finds you!
7. Embrace The Journey
Learn to embrace the journey of being a pet owner, and all the joys and difficulties that come with it.
You and your puppy have a lot to learn about living with one another. The sooner you accept the fact that your puppy won't be perfect ALL the time, the better off you both will be.
8. Practice Positive Reinforcement
Accidents and frustrations happen. Your Doodle will not get it right every single time - that is part of being a pet owner.
But don't give up! Focus on the good. For every step in the right direction, be sure to praise. If he sits patiently, tell him what a good dog he is! If he goes potty outside rather than on the rug, give a reward!
It is important that you remain calm and positive - Kindness and patience goes a long way in avoiding undue stress, and your dog will love you better for it.
9. Exercise with Your Pup
What better way to bond with your puppy pal than going on a walk together! Allow them some time to stop and explore all the exciting things along the way.
Not only is the fresh air and exercise important to your puppy's health, it is also a great stress reliever.
Walking is a fantastic way to train your pup, and build trust, and there are other great options of exercising too, such as swimming, or running.
10. Learn "Doggy" Language
You and your dog can’t speak to one another, but that doesn’t mean you can’t communicate.
Watch your dog closely - From excited to scared to playful, he’ll indicate his feelings, and learning his "language" will guide you through training and bonding.
ASPCA has a helpful guide for learning to read your dog's body language.