8 May 2023
Dogs’ epithet of “man’s best friend” is as well-deserved as it is true. Dogs’ capacity for interspecies friendships is truly remarkable, and unlike that of any other domestic animal. Rather than humans domesticating dogs, it may well have been dogs who effectively self-domesticated so they could benefit from us and what we offered them. Dogs’ ability to bond with humans to the point of viewing us as surrogate family, or “pack” members has been integral to what they are as a species. Human owners and handlers must be prepared to invest time and effort into bonding with their dogs. This is particularly important for protection dogs.
Bonding is a relatively natural process that both dogs and humans should easily take to. At its simplest, bonding is nothing more than the sharing of pleasurable experiences which leads to mutually positive associations being formed. Owners can best achieve this by controlling their dog’s access to such experiences, and ensuring that they themselves are the ultimate positive association. By providing their dog with food, affection, and engaging activities such as walks and fun games, owners soon become associated with the best things in its life, and will in turn see significant reciprocated affection.
Obedience training is also a powerful tool for promoting dog and owner bonding, especially with a view to increasing mutual trust. Everyday activities such as going for a walk or feeding times can be turned into a short obedience session where a dog is first required to perform a desired behaviour on command. As this behaviour becomes reinforced, the owner or handler will learn that they can rely on their dog, whereas the dog increasingly associates the owner or handler with that pleasurable and high-value experience.
If you are interested in exploring more structured ways to bond with your dog, we recommend working with an experienced trainer or behaviourist. This is just one of the services we are able to provide dog owners around the world, and a consultation can be booked by emailing us on [email protected].