Tips & Training

How to Bond With Your Puppy: 15 Steps to Puppy Love

Are you about to welcome home a new puppy? Yay! If you want to form a loving, trusting relationship with your new furry best friend, knowing how to bond with your puppy is key to your success.

Raising a new puppy can be one of the most rewarding (and challenging!) experiences of your life. When our cocker spaniel puppy, Sunny, joined our family last year, it was a whirlwind of love, chaos, snuggles, and shark bites! (#IYKYK)

It was such a special time, but it wasn’t always easy. This is just the reality of having a puppy – it takes work! But when the reward is winning their love, and forming a strong bond with your puppy that lasts for years to come – it’s absolutely worth it.

So to help you out, we sought advice from the experts! Julia Jenkins is a qualified dog trainer at Pet Dog Training Today – and here she shares 15 tips for bonding with your puppy.

RELATED: Puppy Checklist: The Essential Puppy Shopping List (with Free Download!)

How to Bond With Your Puppy: 15 Steps to Puppy Love

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Cute puppy head tilt - 15 Tips to Bond With Your Puppy

Why is bonding with your puppy important?

Bonding with your dog is important because it helps to create a strong connection and good communication between you and your pet. This bond can help to make training easier and can also make it more likely that your dog will listen to you, follow your commands, and be a brilliant companion for years to come.

How to bond with a puppy: 15 steps to puppy love

Spend quality time with your puppy - 15 Tips to Bond With A Puppy

1. Clear your schedule

If you work, book some annual leave and try to clear your diary to bond with your puppy in the first week. This will give you time to get used to each other and settle into a new routine with no other distractions.

2. Set up their home

Get everything ready for their arrival before they come home with you. Prepare their bedding, food and water bowls, and toys in advance. This way, they will feel safe, happy and secure at home from the moment they walk through the door.

3. Make the rules and stick to them

It’s important to be consistent with the rules for your puppy from the start, as this will help them understand what is expected. 

Decide what your puppy can and can’t do, and where they’re allowed in the house. Most importantly, make sure everyone in your home knows and agrees on the rules. It can help to print these out and display them somewhere prominent – the fridge is a good spot! 

4. Get to know each other

Spend some time getting to know your puppy. Let them sniff you and explore their new surroundings at their own pace. This will help them feel comfortable and safe with you.

Training your puppy - 15 Tips to Bond With Your Puppy

5. Start informal training

Training is a great way to bond with your puppy while also teaching them important life skills. Carry some of their daily ration of kibble in your pocket so that whenever your puppy does something you want to see more of, like sitting or laying down spontaneously, you can say “Good!” and reward them straight away. 

Always have something on hand to reward them with. That which gets rewarded, gets repeated! Many of the world’s top dog sport competitors hand-feed their dogs to build a strong bond, so you’re in great company.

6. Keep them contained when not supervised

Puppies are like toddlers…they need to be kept safe when you can’t watch them. Place them in their crate or puppy-proofed area when you’re not able to keep an eye on them, and make sure they have plenty of quality dog toys and chew things to keep them amused. 

After all, it’s difficult to bond with your puppy when they’ve just destroyed your favourite shoes!

7. Get out and about

Socialisation is important for puppies, and taking them out and about is a great way to bond with them. Go for walks, visit friends and family, and take them to different places so they can experience different sights, sounds, and smells.

8. Be patient

Puppies aren’t born instinctively knowing what we expect of them; it takes time for them to learn. Be patient while they are learning, and don’t expect them to be perfect. If they make a mistake, redirect them to another activity and praise them when they do something right.

Spend quality time with your new puppy - How to Bond With Your Puppy

9. Make sure they get enough sleep

Tired puppies are cranky, bitey puppies that will test your patience, so make sure your pup is getting enough rest. Your puppy may not be able to sleep through the night just yet, but set a regular bedtime and stick to it, even on weekends. And make sure they have plenty of naps during the day. 

When puppies first come home at 8 weeks old, they may only be able to stay awake for up to two hours at a time before needing a little snooze to process everything that’s happened. If they are well-rested, they will be much more likely to be happy and calm when they’re awake – making them easier to deal with and more pleasant to be around!

10. Get training and enrichment value from their food

Instead of giving your puppy a bowl of food that is wolfed down in 60 seconds, use their daily ration of kibble to keep them occupied and out of mischief.

Use their kibble for food finding activities, stuffed Kongs and crate training your puppy, as well as for scatter feeding, informal training (see tip 5), and more formal training sessions. This will work their brain and give them plenty of mental stimulation, as well as many opportunities to earn your rewards – a win-win for both of you!

11. Invest in some good quality, natural, long-lasting chews

Puppies need lots of chew time each day. This will help teach them what’s acceptable to chew on and what’s not, as well as helping them to relax and chill at nap times! 

Save your furniture and give your puppy natural, long-lasting chews, such as pizzle, tripe sticks, calf hooves, or these top-rated Nature Gnaws chews on Amazon. They smell a bit like a farmyard, but your puppy will love them!

12. Avoid punishment

Punishment is not an effective way to train your puppy, so please don’t do it! The relationship between dog and owner is built on trust, so it’s important that you are gentle and patient with your puppy while they get to know you. 

If you force them to do things they are not comfortable with, or if you punish them for making mistakes, this can damage the bond between you and make it harder for your puppy to learn to trust you.

How to Bond With A Puppy - 15 Tips to Bond With Your Puppy

13. Take things slowly

Don’t try to do too much too soon. If you overtire your puppy or expect too much of them, they may become anxious or stressed. Instead, take things slowly and let your puppy dictate the pace.

14. Take plenty of photos

Enjoy every moment with your new puppy, they grow up so fast! We still look at Sunny and can’t believe he’s over a year old now. It feels like yesterday he was the tiniest ball of fluff!

Puppyhood is such a special time in your family’s life, so be sure to take lots of photos and videos to look back on in the future. 

15. Have fun!

Last but not least, remember to have fun! Puppies are full of energy and enthusiasm, so make sure you spend plenty of time playing with them. Of course, having fun together is a great way to bond with puppy and tire them out at the same time!

Spend quality time with your new puppy - How to Bond With Your Puppy

How to tell if your puppy has bonded with you

If you’re wondering “does my puppy like me?”, one of the best ways to tell if your puppy has bonded with you is by their body language. 

If your puppy is relaxed around you, with a soft body and loose wagging tail, this is a good sign they feel comfortable in your company. Other signs your puppy is bonding with you are following you around, leaning against you, or resting their head on you.

Puppies are social creatures that need plenty of love and attention to bond with their owner. The best way to get a dog to like you is to be patient, kind, and consistent with your affection.

So, now you know how to bond with your dog! Follow the tips above and you and your new puppy will be best friends in no time.

 

All images by: Dogfolk Pet Photography.

About Julia Jenkins & Pet Dog Training Today

 

Julia Jenkins is a qualified dog trainer with the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT). She’s a force-free, reward-based trainer who believes in helping owners to better understand their dogs so they can live a more harmonious life together.

When she’s not creating no-nonsense, science-based articles about dog training and behaviour for her website Pet Dog Training Today, she runs a specialised service providing practical support to help pet parents rehabilitate their reactive dogs.

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How to Bond With Your Puppy: 15 Steps to Puppy Love

How to Bond With Your Puppy: 15 Steps to Puppy Love

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