Everybody wants to be a dog’s favorite. It’s all about attention, socialization, positive association, and personality. A dog’s favorite person may not always be their primary caregiver. How do they choose their favorite person? Is it possible to change their mind?
Each dog is different, but some generalizations do apply.
Early Dog Bonding
Many dogs bond to whoever cares for them during key socialization, which occurs between birth and 6 months. At this age, a puppy’s brain is incredibly receptive, and their early social experiences will influence them for the rest of their lives. That’s why it’s important to ensure your puppy has positive interactions with a large range of places, people, and things.
Dogs who are not exposed to people wearing hats, for example, might become afraid of hats later in life.
If your dog was an adult when you adopted them, don’t worry. It’s not too late to become a favorite. Early experiences are important, but continued socialization through experiences like playdates, doggie daycare, daily walks, and much more, matters as well.
Affection And Attention Toward Your Dog
Affection and attention increase the bond with your dog. Most dogs bond to the person who gives them the most attention. For example, in a family with two parents and two kids, the dog will favor the parent who fills their bowl each morning and takes them for walks every evening.
Additionally, physical affection solidifies a bond between person and dog. If a person is standoffish towards the dog, the dog will be standoffish toward them. But if you give a dog plenty of pets, grooming sessions, love, and massages, they will seek you out more.
For some dogs, it’s not just an amount of attention and affection that matters, but the quality.
Positive/Negative Associations With Your Dog
Beyond attention from their favorite people, dogs play favorites depending on association. In other words, when a person is the source of some good stuff, the dog forms bonds.
When you think about it, it makes sense. Of course, dogs are going to love the person who always plays tug-of-war or gives them their favorite beef liver treat. They also know the person who feeds them most often, is an important person in their life.
On the flip side, a dog will react poorly to a person with whom they have had bad associations. The positive association leads to positive human-dog relationships. Use positive association to assist in socializing and training your dog.
For example, whenever someone new comes to a house, have them meet the dog in the yard and give them a treat. This establishes an immediate positive association that helps the introduction.
Human Personality and Dog Breed
The human personality and the dog’s breed play a part as well. It is true that sometimes dogs and their owners look and behave alike. Dogs often choose a favorite person who matches their own personality and energy level.
Additionally, some dog breeds are more likely to bond with a person singly, making it more likely that their favorite person will be their only one. Breeds that bond strongly to one person include the Basenji, Greyhound, Shiba Inu and Cairn Terrier.
How To Improve Your Dog’s Bond
If you have a suspicion you’re not your dog’s favorite person, don’t give up! You can increase and improve the bond between you. The easiest way is to spend 30 minutes of one-on-one, focused time together daily. This doesn’t mean walks or watching TV together. This bonding time needs to be active and focused.
Things like playing fetch, tug, or hide and seek. Furthermore, having a training session by working on new skills or reinforcing the old ones is a great way to bond with your dog. Try an agility sport like flyball, where you both can work together as a team.
Food is love! Make mealtime a bonding activity by integrating eye contact.
Or, give your canine a grooming session or a massage. They will love that!
Bonding naturally occurs between dogs and people who treat them well. Always take good care of your dog, socialize them, give them positive experiences, and respect their unique personality. They will reward you with a lifetime of love, even if they sometimes act more excited to see your children or spouse!