Five Ways To Improve Your Bond With Your Dog That You Might Not Know About

While countless books have now been published on how new parents can improve the relationship with their children, there’s little information out there on how they can do this with their pets. Which is surprising-given that millennials are increasingly preferring “furbabies” over biological offspring.

While U.S. birthrates continue to dwindle, research shows that 66 percent of American households now own at least one pet, a huge increase from 1988 where only 18 percent had an animal companion, according to Statista. Meanwhile another study found that (unsurprisingly) dogs are Americans’ favorite pet.

Experts agree creating a good bond with a dog leads to a happier and healthier life together, but owners must be willing to make the effort in order to reap the benefits of a canine’s love.

Newsweek spoke to United Kingdom-based Kennel Club accredited dog trainer Joe Nutkins about the secret ways to improve your relationship with your dog-and it’s easier than you think.

 Joe Nutkins, a United Kingdom based dog behaviorist can be seen sitting with three dogs. The expert has exclusively shared five ways to help owners develop a strong bond with their canine.Provided/Joe Nutkins/Joe Nutkins
Joe Nutkins, a United Kingdom based dog behaviorist can be seen sitting with three dogs. The expert has exclusively shared five ways to help owners develop a strong bond with their canine.Provided/Joe Nutkins/Joe Nutkins

“Developing a positive relationship with our dogs, whether as a puppy or adult, from a breeder, rescue or rehomed, helps our dogs feel both safe and comfortable day to day and in new situations,” Nutkins explained. “The bond works both ways, so when our dog bonds with us we feel joy for our dog being happy, as well as the companionship our dogs provide us.”

“Without this process we can feel like our pet isn’t really part of the family and it can take us longer to understand their needs. Meanwhile for our dogs the trust and security can take a long time when they haven’t managed to bond with us,” she explained.

Here, Nutkins, a co-director at U.K.-based Dog Training for Essex and Suffolk, shares her top tips for ensuring your relationship with your pet is top-notch.

Have Some Alone Time

You may think you spend a lot of time with your dog but is it really quality time? Perhaps you’re scrolling on social media while your canine lays by your feet. Well, Nutkins advises against doing this.

She said: “Spending time with our dogs one on one boosts the bond we share with them as our attention is focused entirely on one dog at a time, no other people, not checking our phone or watching TV. What we do with that time varies depending on what a dog likes-some enjoy play, others might like a massage or grooming time.”

Go for a Walk in a Quiet Place

“Taking a walk together can be a lovely way to bond with our dogs,” said Nutkins. “Consider looking for somewhere quiet, where you can park up, get ready and walk together.”

Nutkins advises a walk with little distractions to ensure you are making the most out of your time with your pet.

She suggests choosing “your favorite place” or a scenic walk down along a river.

“Finding bridle ways and quite country walks can mean less interruptions!” she added.

Try a New Activity

 A stock image of a senior man smiling as he pets a Golden Retriever. Owners with a positive attitude are likely to have a stronger bond with their dogs, according to Nutkins.monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images Plus
A stock image of a senior man smiling as he pets a Golden Retriever. Owners with a positive attitude are likely to have a stronger bond with their dogs, according to Nutkins.monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Dogs are capable of bringing an unlimited amount of joy into their owners lives but sometimes, they may cause them stress. Like when they are destructive or not reaching milestones but this is just part of the fun that comes with being a dog owner. Nutkins urges owners to “inject positivity into everything” to make the most out of their time with their pet.

She said: “When we are positive with our encouragement, feedback and guidance, our dogs will feel happier and less confused.

“It can be very easy for us caregivers to become demotivated if our dog isn’t progressing with their settling in, confident building or learning a new skill we are teaching them. But if we start to feel despondent show frustrated body language or try to speed up the process it can cause our dogs to revert further and feel worried.

“We’ve all had a time where our dog has been messing about when we need to get out the house for an appointment and ended up raising our voices to say ‘Just stop being silly so we can get going!’

“Or we come home to find our puppy has had an accident which we respond to with a big sigh and a fall of the shoulders and say something like ‘Oh great, now I’ll need to clean this up.’ Our dogs will see our body language, feel our emotions, hear the disappointment or frustration in our voices, and it causes them worry or confusion which breaks down the bond a little more each time.

“So try to take a deep breath and give yourself a moment before responding to something. Think about what our dogs are trying to tell us or what they might be struggling with and guide them with positive training, body language, praise when they do something good-and see that bond grow and grow.”

Do you have funny and adorable videos or pictures of your pet you want to share? Send them to life@newsweek.com with some details about your best friend and they could appear in our Pet of the Week lineup.

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This story was originally published December 16, 2023, 12:00 PM.

source: star-telegram

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