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Ways to bond with your dog, its importance and some games to enhance your relationship

Updated on September 13, 2014
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Michelle is a professional freelance writer who loves music, poetry, pets, and the arts. She is a techno-geek as well.

Cloudy having fun with her toys
Cloudy having fun with her toys | Source

How to make the most out of playtime!

Bonding with my dog? Now is that really necessary? Isn't it a waste of time since animals cannot talk?

Contrary to what some might consider an unnecessary task, relationships with our pets are as important as those with our family members and friends. If our pets are to become welcome, integral parts of our lives, we need to form meaningful relationships with them.

So how do we connect with our dogs, why do we have to and what are some of the things we can do with them?

Cloudy at comfortable rest
Cloudy at comfortable rest | Source

Why must I bond with my dog?

Connecting with our dogs can seem like a chore after a dreary work day. So how would I try to convince dog owners that creating a nurturing bond with their dogs is important?

With a little commonsensical reasoning.

Bonding builds trust

Just as it does with any relationship, trust between an owner and a dog is something that needs to be nurtured. For a dog to become a functional member of the household, spending time connecting with our dogs is necessary for confidence and assurance to develop mutually.

A good case in point is my West Highland White Terrier, young Cloudy. Basically a very outgoing little dog who loves other dogs and children, I observed that she has many insecurities and some difficulty trusting me (you can guess that this will be when it comes to baths, brushing of teeth and going to the vet). I began a search for activities to get her to trust me and to help us bond.

Connecting with your pet is part of being a responsible dog owner.

I liken this to having children. Parents see bonding with their children as part of their role and responsibility.

When we bring a pet home, many would agree that it is irresponsible to leave it aside in a corner and ignore it. In the way we do with children, we should also find ways to build ties with our pets.There are many ways to do this, which I will go into later.

Socialization

Bonding with your dog teaches him to relate to his environment and those around him. It all starts with him getting to know his owner. His first understandings of the world he is in revolve mainly around his owner. When he learns to relate positively to his owner, his understanidng of the world around him is also positive.

You will find that a dog who relates well to you will better do so with other people, animals and the environment around him. At Nex, a dog run in the North part of Singapore which I had visited recently, I noticed that the dogs who got along well with other dogs were the ones who showed a certain spark between themselves and their owners and were truly happy.

It makes them a more included member of the family.

Bonding with your dog makes him a more included, functional and therefore important part of the family. Your dog is essentially your fur kid and making time for him will show him that he is an essential family member.

Some dogs feel like such important family members that they feel compelled to tell their owners when something is wrong, running to them whenever they notice one of the children crying or when someone has had a fall.

Misty at comfortable rest.
Misty at comfortable rest. | Source

Things to consider when bonding with our dogs

Bonding with our dogs requires a good balance of love and discipline, and it certainly does not mean allowing our dogs to run roughshod over us. So how would we go about maintaining the balance?

Establish yourself as his pack leader.

You may have heard this before and it will seem trite, but is certainly true. Establish yourself as the dog’s pack leader, someone whom he can and must look to for guidance. Do not allow the dog to be the dominant party in play or in simple matters like going for a walk. By this I mean not to allow him to dominate you in games or tug ferociously at the leash to lead you during walks.

Do things together with your dog.

These can range from the simple things like a daily walk and a simple game of fetch to obedience training and agility classes. It includes a fun day at the beach! Make it a point to include the dog in family activities.

Think about what the dog wants.

This may sound a little profound, but what it really means is not to ignore him when he tries to get your attention by doing silly things like chewing your slippers. He may also try to bring them to you. Destructive behavior on the part of the dog is his way of saying that something is missing and he needs it!

This is when bonding with your dog can help it to redirect its energies to more purposeful pursuits. My dog Cloudy used to be destructive and simply loved the taste of my slippers. I began bringing her for longer daily walks while taking photos for articles. I also bring her to agility parks and playgrounds, and it has helped her to settle down.

All she wanted was to spend a little time with me. Bringing her to these places and doing these activities has helped her to settle down tremendously.

Be calm, consistent and fair with your dog.

It is normal to be irritated with some annoying canine behaviors like barking or jumping on ourselves and others. But how we react to these annoyances can strengthen or break the bond we have with our dogs.

Some people react to a dog’s barking by shouting at them or giving them a huge whack. This will not really eliminate the behavior and causes fear in the dog that will diminish his trust in his owner.

When correcting a dog, do not scold him for jumping on the sofa on one day and forgetting about it the next. The unpredictability lessens his trust in you as a leader.

Be fair. For example, do not punish him for not performing a command that he does not understand, because it turns him off performing it, and you.

Win your dog’s trust.

Show your dog that you are always looking out for his best interests. Getting a dog to love you is very different from getting him to trust you. Dogs love us all, but for them to understand that we mean the best for them can be quite a task. Cloudy, for example,is a sweet, loving dog by all accounts, but it took her a lot of time to trust me enough to allow me to brush her teeth or give her a bath willingly.

And all that trust that has been built would be ruined by any inconsistency or unfairness on my part.

Be protective.

Do not ignore your dog when he reacts to what he perceives to be a threat. Whether it is real or not, it gives him discomfort and must be addressed. Step in and assure him of the fact that it is not, and take necessary action when it is. This increases his trust and allows him to bond with you.

Note that this is not the same as mollycoddling your dog and doing practically everything for him, which would indeed spoil him. It is stepping in and giving assurance when it is necessary.


Enjoying herself at the playground
Enjoying herself at the playground | Source

Bonding games you can play with your dog

These are some of the simple and fun things that you and your dog can do together.

Hide and seek

This is a fun game kids and dogs can play together. Get a child to hide a toy, first showing the dog who has it. Get the child to go away, and let the dog go about searching for him for the treat. It is a fun activity for the dog and the family.

Find the treat

As i write this article, I am playing this game with Cloudy and taking a photo of it as well. Show the dog a treat and hide it under a cushion with instructions to “seek”. He will have fun sniffing around for the treat and gulping it down when it is found.

Drop it

This is a fun and relatively simple bonding activity you can play with your dog. Give him something to hold, and get him to drop it in exchange for a treat.

Fetch

Throwing something and getting your dog to bring it back to you is a simple way of bonding with your dog.

Throw the toy as far as you can and get your dog to pounce on it. Run away from him and encourage him to chase you, If he gives the toy to you, give him a treat. Do this until he understands that his job is to release the toy to you.

Dog soccer

The dog will take time to understand that he has to push things along with his nose. When he picks it up, get more people to join in the game! It does not matter who wins, just connect with the dog!

Finding a hidden treat
Finding a hidden treat | Source

Fun places to bring your dog to

Here are some fun places to bring your dog to if you are thinking of spending a family day, dogs included.

Dog Runs

Dog runs give dogs the chance to socialize with other people and dogs. An apt way for dog and owner to spend time together.

The beach

Dogs are natural swimmers and love water play. Let him shake it out at the beach!

Doggie style cafes

Some cafes are styled in such a way that dogs are allowed as part of the clientele. Have a meal there with your dog!

Parks

These are great places to bring your dog and a fun way to spend time with your family. Play soccer with him or a game of fetch while having a picnic.

Conclusion

There are many ways to bond with your dog and include them in family activities. Enjoy these fun suggestions!

Copyright Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin All RIghts Reserved

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    • Jasmeetk profile image

      Jasmeet Kaur 19 months ago from India

      I love my dog...

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Pink Chic, enlist her help! LOL! Thanks for sharing!

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Great article. My pup loves being involved in EVERYTHING, even cleaning! lol

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Eddy!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant hub Michelle ; as always voted up and here's hoping your weekend is great.

      Edd.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      That's right....as with children, dogs also have to know who to look to for guidance. Thanks for sharing, Bill.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      That's way cool, Mary. Agility training is a great way to bond...and redirects their energy. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      As schnauzers always are. They simply love play, Mary. When Misty was younger she used to do the same thing and I am so amazed by the inner clock they seem to have! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      That's too cool, Natasha! So glad to have dogs as an important part of our lives. Thanks for sharing.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Glad that the two of you are tight, Lovedoctor!! Say hi for me!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hello to Marvin, Phyllis!! I am always happy to hear that a dog has gotten a new home. Thanks very much for sharing!!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it is, Anna! Thanks very much for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, travelinjack.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I think that if a pet.is meant merely to be there,and worse, chained, perhaps I people have to really rethink their priorities before owning one as making it a part of the family is a responsibility. Thanks for sharing!

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Bonding with your pets is so important ~ for them and you. I hate when I see a neglected dog in the backyard chained up with no one to play with. People should not neglect their pets. Show them love and give them a great life. I bond with my kitty cat every day.

    • TravelinJack profile image

      Jack Baumann 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Funny and informative article, voted up!!

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Excellent information and advice. Many of these strategies about consistency and family bonding are the same for parenting children too. These are compassionate, responsible ideas!

    • Anna Sternfeldt profile image

      Anna Sternfeldt 4 years ago from Svenljunga, Sweden

      Well written hub, thumb up! The bonding is so important and your really put some good information in here.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      This is a great and well-written hub, thank you for sharing these tips and suggestions.

      I adopted a senior Pomeranian about two months ago. He had been a stray when the SPCA rescued him and cleaned him up. His fur was so matted and dirty that they had to shave him. He had a respiratory infection and was put on antibiotics for three weeks. My daughter saw a picture of him (she shares all pics from SPCA of adoptable animals) and begged me to adopt him. His name is Marvin. Our family had a visit with Marvin and fell in love with him. We waited and waited till he was well and able to be adopted. Finally, the day came when we would find out if we were chosen. There was another family that applied for Marvin. We had to go home and wait for a call. I was on the edge, afraid I would not get Marvin. I got the call and was told we could "come pick up your baby boy". I was thrilled !

      Anyway, to get to the point here, Marvin was very insecure and timid. With time and a lot of love and proper care, he has learned to trust me and runs to me for comfort or when he needs something. He is very well-mannered and trained. We bonded so well. Knowing how to care for him, what he likes and does not like in foods, playing little games with him, etc. has worked wonders. We communicate very well and he is my precious little companion.

      Your hub further helps to help my little Marvin become well-adjusted to his forever home. Thank you.

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      My dog and I have a good bonding relationship. I play with him all the time and tuck him in his little bed; I'm constantly refilling his bowl of water. I don't like him smelling me or licking me, but I do like to hug him. Great hub!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      When I was a kid, I had pet hamsters. Every day, my dad made me have 'hamster friendlying time' to teach me the importance of bonding with pets. Even when I'm super busy, I try to devote at least some time each day to playing with my dogs!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I just love your little dogs! My dog, Baby, and I play together and certainly bond. She knows the time of day we play which is usually 8 PM, and she will come and "ask" me to play. She loves fetch. We take out walk every day at 4PM, and we both look forward to that. I wouldn't want a dog that I couldn't bond with. Baby is so much fun for me!

      Voted UP and shared.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Can I say ditto to Bill and Kidscraft's comments? Bonding is really essential to a good relationship with your dog. It sounds simple but isn't always necessarily so. Not for everyone, but I found a great way of bonding was an agility class. Next to that, going places with your dog is great. Your dogs are adorable and your pictures cute.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Plenty of good suggestions Michelle! I love your pictures! Cloudy seems to really enjoy the play time on the top picture!

      Have a great weekend!

      Joelle

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Our latest was one year old when we got him. The first job was to establish myself as the pack leader. Once that had been done then bonding was much easier. Good suggestions!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      On the importance of bonding with our dogs and some suggested bonding games.