10 Ways To Bond With Your Dog

You always bore the ones you love.

And that’s not a terrible thing. One of the great blessings of being with those you love and who love you back is that you don’t have to work so hard to impress them.

But it’s still good to do special things to strengthen your relationship.

Honey the golden retriever puppy meets a new friend.

How do you illustrate a post about bonding with your dog since when you’re bonding with your dog you don’t interrupt it by taking pictures? You post cute puppy pics and hope everyone forgives you for going off topic.

Here are a few things Honey and I like to do together, just the two of us:

Share Food – Honey’s favorite bonding moment. I’ll pit cherries and eat half while sharing the others with her.

Heck, the world’s largest religion has made shared meals a sacrament. It’s gotta have something going for it.

Wrestle – Did you ever notice how much more boys like to do this with dogs than girls? But it’s fun for everyone. I wrestle with Honey while she’s on the bed and I’m standing beside it. Our “paws” are on a more equal footing.

Groom Her – No, not toenail clipping. But Honey loves being combed and brushed. And I love leaving all that dead fur in the compost instead of all over my bed.

Honey the golden retriever puppy sleeps in her crate.

Superfluous puppy picture #2.

Go For A Walk – Yeah, I know for many of us this is a twice-a-day activity. But how about if you let your dog set the pace, direction, and duration? If she wants to run, run. If she wants to walk for two hours, walk for two hours. Who knows where she’ll lead you?

Play Nosework Games – Do you ignore your dog’s strongest sense? Because nothing will make you closer than helping him explore the world by scent.

Introduce your dog to finding things by scent on cue, then use it to play games around the house and yard.

Train A Trick – I’ve never been big on training my dogs to do tricks. But meeting other people who do has changed my mind. And Honey finds it fun. I’ve incorporated tricks into our walks. And lately, trick training helped distract Honey from a particularly severe thunderstorm.

Honey the golden retriever sits on the table.

And superfluous puppy picture #3.

Cuddle – Yep, Honey thinks she’s a lap dog. Sometimes she just likes to curl up in my lap. Usually when I’m working…. But still, a great bonding activity.

Take A Drive – If we had asked her, Honey would never have let us get rid of the car. She loves a slow, sniffy drive with the windows open. From the look on her face, I’d have to say a car ride to her is like a trip to the museum for an artist.

Honey the Golden Retriever as seen in the rear view mirror of the car.

Oh yay, a road trip!

Play Chase – How do dogs play with each other? Honey and her friends like to run after each other. Sometimes, to keep Honey’s recall strong, I drop the leash and run away from her. To her, it’s fabulous fun. Especially when she gets a liver treat for catching me.

And besides, what could strengthen your bond more than your dog associating good times with following after you?

Take A Nap – Okay, not something Honey and I actually do together. I hate sleeping in the middle of the day. But my husband loves it. And I strongly suspect that snoozing together on the shore while I swim around has made them closer than ever.

Every Bond Is Unique

Your dog might not enjoy any of the things Honey and I do together. We’re all different.

My husband wishes I enjoyed foot rubs as a bonding moment. But I’m too ticklish. (And ladies who love foot rubs, do not leave your phone number in the comments. He’s taken.)

I’d swear that some of the foster pups we’ve hosted find following someone on their way to use the toilet a bonding moment. Luckily Honey believes in privacy.

What makes you and your dog closer? Why not spend a few moments this weekend and build your bond.

Enter Our Latest Book Giveaway

I just enjoyed a wonderful book about a man who traveled across country with his dog exploring the nature of the human-canine bond. It’s a great summer read. And if you live in the continental U.S., you have a chance to win your own copy here.

Your Turn: What things do you do with your dog that build your bond? 





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  1. Just like naps, sleeping on the bed at night! My guys are downright insulted if they aren’t invited up! Of course, they want the option to leave in the middle of the night as well. Overheating is never fun!

    Grooming for my guys is the exact opposite. They head for the hills when they see a brush in my hands!

    Agility (pretty much training a giant trick) is a great bonding activity.

  2. These guys enjoy all those things too. Torrey will lay down so relaxed when I groom her, even her hairy feet. Which a did yesterday. And food. Yep food.

  3. Training, cuddling, taking walks…those are all a part of it. But for us, the thing that makes them happiest, is just to stop doing everything else and just play with them. Having 100 % of our attention, and playing a game they enjoy, brings them such joy….

  4. Mom hangs out with us on the floor a lot, she spots squirrels and wabbits for us. We know the words and also know if she says it, they are there. We do nose work, tons of fun walks, just hang out. I think we are well bonded.

  5. Fantastic list, as always. I love that you have embraced the dog trick as it really can be so much fun. The best feeling ever as you watch that light shine in your dog’s eyes when she begins to understand what you are asking.

    It all comes down to time and attention, doesn’t it? Dogs don’t ask for much other than to be with us, whatever we are doing. Even my super independent husky growing up was happier when we were with her. She may have preferred playing by herself but only if we were there to watch.

    Thank you for sharing more of your lovely insights. :-)

  6. Those are all great ideas, and we actually do most of them! I also leave the napping to my hubby though…if I sleep in the middle of the day it just makes me more tired.
    It took me a while to get Sheba to enjoy being brushed. She’ll still kind of stiffen up when I come to her with the brush but then she remembers it’s a good thing. Her brother Moses used to love it, but Sheba gets fidgety….though less so now.
    When you have multiple dogs, those individual walks really do mean a lot to them, and I enjoy spending alone time with each of them as well.

  7. One thing that is so cool about having so many dogs is the different ways we bond with them and they bond with each other. One thing all of our dogs have in common is that they love kisses, hugs, and belly rubs.

    We love giving them.

  8. I love napping with my dog, of course I do lots of activities as well but napping is always such a special time.

  9. Harley’s newest “bonding” moment is sitting in the SAME recliner with me. He jumps up first and curls into the back while I sit on a fraction of the chair and he rests his head on the arm while I rock. It’s so sad – I’m a doodle recliner rocker – hummmmm

  10. We enjoy doing all of those things :) Except being brushed. Mine both tolerate it, but that’s about it.

  11. On sharing food: I have to say, I give Silas bites of my dinner, which of course breaks all the “rules.” It started because he was quite happy to rest under the table while we ate, as long as he could gnaw on the chair legs. Oops. We’ve had some very sweet moments over shared dinner, and he never begs if I have something he can’t eat. Take that, rules.

  12. We play hide-and-seek as our bonding game. We also play one where I cover them with a blanket and they try to find me as I dance around them. They love it!

  13. Some top tips and I have to admit I do quite a few of them with my two.

    Don’t worry no phone number left her for hubby, I hate feet and can’t stand other peoples or people touching mine. A funny overshare (well i think it’s funny!). I had an ex (not ‘the ex’, a pre ‘the ex’ ex) who once when we were in bed decided it would be romantic to suck my toes – I very nearly kicked him in the face. The whole time he was thinking ‘how romantic’ i was thinking ‘eugh, get off me’ when he then went to kiss me I pushed him away and that ended that night of passion!!