Ways to help strengthen your bond with your dog

Just as spending frequent, quality time together with a friend makes us feel closer and improves our relationship, the same goes for our pets too. The more time, activities and experiences you have together will further strengthen your understanding, bond and it’s also enjoyable and beneficial for you both.

There are lots of easy ways to make sure you do this on a regular basis that are practical and flexible to fit around busy schedules. Although walking and playing are often overlooked as an opportunity to bond and considered more a duty, it’s important to recognise these as vital time and activities that help to keep you as best buds. Playtime in particular helps with bond building through the shared communication it involves, and your dog’s association of their happiness and excitement with you as the source. Try not to get stuck into a rut by doing the same familiar walks, instead go to different and new places, or even just change up your route slightly and the toys that you take along – a ball, Frisbee or tug of war rope all make for great interactive play. Exercise is important but not just to provide physical activity but also to provide an opportunity to explore. This is the reason why dogs like to go for a walk; it provides an opportunity to explore their environment, re-encounter familiar items or places, or to make new discoveries not simply because they need physical activity. Exercise provides opportunities to explore their environment using all of their senses; off lead exercise provides optimum opportunities for a dog to explore but can only be safely provided to dogs which will recall reliably.

If you’re an active type and are prone to a lot more vigorous activity than just walking, why not get your dog involved as a furry (and very eager!) exercise partner. With lots of energy to burn off themselves, dogs can make the perfect running partner which will help their health and bring a sense of importance and focus. Perhaps you’re an avid hiker and could include your dog more often in any excursions. Think about your own activities and where your pet could fit into this as a way to strengthen your relationship.

Training is another great way to use and improve communication with your dog, and get them to learn a new trick in the process! The lessons learnt through training are valuable ones that can benefit your friendship in all kinds of instances. Along with teaching obedience and responses to basic commands, it also helps you to build trust and understanding with your pet. This can be vital for situations when you may rely on this established bond for either their or your own safety. Ultimately too, dogs love to please their owners, so by seeing your reaction at their success and hard work it will bring them a sense of joy and achievement. To get the most out of training, be sure to praise your dog enthusiastically and use rewards to communicate their successes.

Physical contact and interaction with your dog, such as regular petting and grooming, also help to enhance your bond. Just like most pets, dogs enjoy the attention and quality time together this brings, and touch can be another powerful communication method. Research shows the human benefits are significant too, in terms of the positive effects on our health such as lowering stress levels and blood pressure. It’s even becoming used more widely as a therapy treatment, due to the impact interaction and establishing a relationship with a dog can have on our wellbeing. Most owners will agree their friendship with a pet is top of the list of the many wonderful things having a dog can bring, so try and use these simple ways to make sure your relationship is the best one possible and it will help to keep you both healthy and happy.

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