Just like their human pals, dogs are likely to choose a favorite person based on a number of factors. Some of these include the person’s demeanor, interactions with the dog, and how well the person helps meet their basic needs.
Because dogs are such loyal companions, most of us want to be the best friend of man’s best friend. So how can a new human make a good impression in a dog’s life? We’ll explain how dogs choose favorites, why they do it, and how to win your dog’s favor if it’s not already you!
The Kind of People Dogs Love
Dogs choose their favorite people based on positive interactions and socialization they have shared in the past. Like humans, dogs are especially impressionable as their brains develop, so puppies up to 6 months old are in their key socialization period.
Like their human counterparts, dogs develop favorite people over time based on positive experiences and positive associations with that person. Some people use tasty treats and other rewards to create strong bonds with pets, but the best way to build a healthy relationship with your dog is through play. Active, focused games and fun activities with your pet can help build connections and strong bonds.
Why Dogs Choose Best Friends
Dogs choose best friends for many of the same reasons people do, and part of it is simple personality compatibility. More predominantly though are the early impressions your dog has of your, especially if you’ve known them since puppyhood. Quality time and the amount of time spent together is another factor that might determine your dog’s best friend. If your dog has had some really fun, deep bonding time with you and is anticipating more of that, they might stay nearby, ready to play or snuggle up.
Often those humans that are part of our pets’ daily lives and contribute to meeting their social, health, and activity needs in positive ways become our pets’ favorites. Your dog’s caregiver in puppyhood is likely to always have a special place in their lives, but healthy relationships can be built throughout your dog’s life through feelings of care and expressions of friendship.
Ultimately your dog is not only seeking a trustworthy, long-term caregiver, but a friend and companion who likes to play and respects their autonomy when they need it. The favorite parent is usually the one that invests the most into the bonding process.
What To Do If You’re Not in Your Dog’s Inner Circle
Dogs are very empathetic types of friends and can sense when something is off. If you’re very often anxious, irritable, nervous, or too high-energy, it might be intimidating or overwhelming to your furry friend. Positive dog-human relationships should be harmonious and caring. Pay close attention to your dog’s body language to see when they respond negatively or positively to your mood.
Some dogs build strong bonds through physical affection, while others do not. Again, observing your dog’s body language, like eye contact, tail wagging or hiding, panting or maybe even affectionate behavior, like licking your hand will help you decide. The important thing to remember is just like humans, dogs can have social discomfort or anxiety, and see themselves as part of your social hierarchy. Pay attention to what your pup pal’s small behaviors are telling you.
Strong bonds can also be built through actively engaging in play. This means showing interest, enthusiasm and high energy levels for the types of play your pet likes. Not sure which fun activities your pet really enjoys? Refer back to the previous step of active listening when you have one-on-one time with your pet! Agility games and team-building games are a great place to start.
Paying attention to what really makes your pet happy, and what makes them afraid or anxious will quickly help you become their favorite human!
Build Your Dog’s Human Friend-Group
While some dogs choose a single person to latch onto emotionally, some dogs love social experiences with humans and have big groups of humans they’re friendly with. Bonding time with a range of people aside from the primary caregiver can be great for socializing dogs and stimulating their brains. Dogs bond hardest with humans who pay attention to their non-verbal cues and favorite games are.
The bonding process can begin at any phase of your pet’s life, as long as they are open to new people. Regular training with agility courses and stimulating games and time with other dogs can help pets build positive associations with the humans around them. Allowing dogs to socialize with people who visit your home or other dog lovers at the dog park is another great way to introduce new human friends.
We care about the needs of your fluffy friend as much as you do and can give your dog contact with humans beyond their inner circle of friends. Allowing your dog to bond with dogs is important too, if they’re comfortable. Dog walking and pet sitting services are a great way for your dog to bond with other dogs and have an amazing experience with new human friends!