Bonding with a new puppy is easy and natural. However, bonding with an older dog - especially a rescue dog that may have been neglected or abused - might prove to be a little more difficult. An adult dog coming into your home from a different environment may be timid or stressed. Or perhaps you're entering his home as a stranger, which could present trust issues as well. There are ways, however, that you can help your dog trust you, and develop a bond that will last his lifetime.
Probably the first thing people think of when it comes to bonding with a dog is food. And there's a reason for that. My vet even gives my dogs a treat when they're on the exam table to ease their stress and gain their trust so that she can examine them. Don't just feed your dog, however. Make him work for his food like giving you a handshake or high five. The communication that will naturally be exchanged in this process will help him get to know you and trust you more.
Play with him.
Dogs love to play. Some may prefer a game of tug-of-war while others may prefer to play fetch, but all dogs enjoy playful attention. Talk to him as you're playing and praise him when he does something good. Be sure to keep your voice happy and your body language positive, as dogs are very intuitive.
Almost all dogs enjoy going on walks and it's a great way to have fun together while also teaching him the rules of the road. Be sure to keep him from pulling, stop at street corners before crossing, etc. so that he knows the rules and that you will enforce them. This training process is also two-way communication that helps strengthen your bond.
Hang out together.
I have a deaf pug that has to be with my husband or me every second that we are home. She even follows us into the bathroom! The bond we have created by just hanging out is one of the strongest I've ever seen, and you can have that with your dog as well. You may not want him with you every moment, but allowing him to be with you as you watch TV or do your chores can be a very special bonding experience.
Believe it or not, consistently disciplining your dog helps create a strong, lasting bond. You have to establish that you are the boss in the house so that he will respect your authority. This is what helps make him loyal and loving rather than aggressive or demanding.
When bonding with your dog, what you do may not be as important as how you do it. Always be loving, nurturing and kind, and above all - consistent. The time you invest in getting to know your dog and letting him know you will pay off many times over in the years to come.
More from Cherri: