Bonding with Your New Dog

posted: 05/15/12
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Stroking, patting and gently grooming all comfort and please your dog.
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Whether your pet is a puppy or an adult dog, each activity the two of you share builds and strengthens your bond.

- Stroking, patting and gently grooming all comfort and please your dog.

- Appropriate play allows you to share your dog's natural joy in movement and games.

- Time spent in agility training and obedience work enhances your relationship while allowing your dog to gain confidence as he successfully completes tasks and earns your approval as well as the occasional treat.

- Make sure that the sessions are no longer than the dog's attention span and that they always end on an up note with the dog successfully completing a command and winning praise.

Dogs understand and learn from the consequences that follow their actions. By rewarding good behavior with praise, attention and honestly given rewards, you reinforce both the behavior and the bond between you and contribute to your dog's sense of confidence and his place in the family structure. If the dog's behavior is unacceptable, make this clear in a firm, negative tone of voice. Intimidation, cruelty or any attempt to hurt or harm your dog betrays his trust, damages the bond you share and can lead him to be fearful.

Dogs come to us with a natural sense of order and a willingness to acknowledge humans as top dog. In response, we need to reinforce our position by confident and consistent leadership and guidance. Understanding your dog's worldview and being a firm and consistent leader will allow him to grow to his full canine potential and permit the bond between you to continue to develop.

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Establishing a bond is easiest and most natural with puppies. Leaving their mother's authority at about 8 weeks (taking puppies from their litter earlier than 6 weeks means the puppy misses an important part of the "litter" experience and may always have difficulty relating to other dogs), the impressionable puppy willingly comes to see his human as the leader. You reinforce this natural tendency by calm, patient, consistent attention and by allowing the puppy to adjust to new routines. The pup is anxious to trust and bond and will respond positively to your care.

- Provide him with a safe sanctuary (such as a crate) that is quiet and puppy-proof.

- Build his confidence with unambiguous expectations and gentle treatment. Young puppies are easily intimidated, so be careful when training.

- A firm "no" is usually sufficient when discipline is necessary.

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Establishing a bond with an adult dog may take a little longer, especially if he comes from a troubled past, but it is well worth the effort. If possible, learn as much as you can about your adult dog's early life so you can avoid inadvertently repeating any troublesome or frightening experiences.

- Assert your leadership in a non-confrontational way.

- Be clear and firm in your expectations and be patient.

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