Puppies bond with their owners at around 6 weeks up to 14 weeks old. This is perfect timing because this is normally when you take a newborn puppy home.
Prior to this time, they bond with their mother and learn how to be a dog. The bonding with their mother shows them how to bond with you later on.
Puppies learn to love their owners, but have you ever wondered when they actually form a bond with them? It’s around six to eight weeks when puppies normally start to bond with humans.
Before that there is a series of developmental stages that the puppy goes through. They are important to know because they build up to bonding with their owner. They are:
- Week 1 to 3: Initially the puppy has closed eyes and its focus is on warmth and comfort. Feeding is important, as is the mother who has a distinctive smell and feel.
- Week 4 and 5: These weeks are when the puppy is exposed to new feelings and sensations. They learn about light,dark,hearing and smell. They learn to socialize and how to behave with other dogs.
- Weeks 6 to 8: The puppy develops emotions and begins to form a bond with their owner. It’s at this point many breeders separate the puppy from their mother and send them home with their new masters.
This is also the time puppies learn to fear. Make sure you give them lots of cuddles.
Puppies Accept You as Leader of the Pack
At about eight weeks when you get to know your puppy, they are likely to accept you as the pack leader as well as their loving owner. Before you know it, you will have a life-long bond with your puppy. Once your puppy trusts you, they will bond with you.
Of course, you shouldn’t worry if your puppy hasn’t bonded fully with you at that stage. All puppies are different. They may bond with you sooner, or they may take a while longer. Just let it happen naturally.
There are signs your puppy has bonded with you. They are worth knowing because some people may be unfamiliar or worried they aren’t bonding with their puppy. Look for the following.:
- They love snuggling into your clothing. Dogs have an amazing sense of smell, and puppies are no different. When they find a pile of your clothes, they will want to snuggle in and sleep because it reminds them of you.
- They rest their head on you. This is a very good sign from your puppy. It shows they feel safe with you. They are showing a great deal of trust by falling asleep on you or just resting there.
- They look you in the eye. When dogs are fearful, they rarely look you in the eye. When they have bonded with you and love and trust you, they will gaze into your eyes.
If you want to do a few things to ensure the bonding between you and your puppy is swift, try the following:
- Stick to a routine. Dogs love routine, and it enhances their bond with you. They trust routine.
- Spend time with them. Spend as many hours with your puppy as possible. It will make them feel like a valued member of your pack.
- Show them patience. Dogs become wary of someone who is impatient and shouts or gets frustrated with them. A fearful dog will take much longer to bond with someone.
The Puppy’s Mother Sets Them Up To Bond With You
When a puppy is born, all they know is their mother. They form an amazing bond with her.She cleans them, brings them back when they wander too far, and teaches them about life.
When your puppy is separated from her, there is a void, and they want to bond with someone to fill that gap. When you adopt the puppy, you become their surrogate mother, and they will see you feed, cuddle and calm them when they are scared.
Timing is key to bonding with your puppy. Most people will take their puppy home around nine weeks old. Puppies learn to socialize with other dogs when they are up to six weeks old. As I said earlier, they learn to socialize with humans up to 14 weeks. This means that when you take your puppy home for the first time, you are in the prime time to form that bond.
If you adopt an older puppy, don’t worry. You can still bond with them. It may take a little while longer, but dogs are programmed to be a part of a pack, and you are the pack leader.
Dogs May Bond With One Special Person
Sometimes dogs will bond with one person. It may even be someone who isn’t their main caregiver. You may be the person who looks after them the most, but if you have someone who gives them treats, plays with them and takes them to the park, your puppy may bond with that person.
Chemistry and bonding go hand in hand. In other words, if your puppy is rewarded and fussed over constantly by someone, they may attach themselves to that person.
That certainly doesn’t mean they don’t like you. They will likely love you to bits, but they have simply formed a bond with the person who doesn’t have to do the toilet training and discipline you do.
Think of the example of a child. A child loves their parents to bits, but they often form a strong bond with their grandparents because whenever they see them they get treats, get taken to fun places and are often on holiday. It certainly doesn’t mean they don’t love their parents.
If you want to strengthen your bond with your puppy, spend a quality 30 minutes a day with them. This needs to be close attention, not things like walking. You should play fetch, hide and seek or have a fun and rewarding training session with them.
Provide as many positive experiences to your puppy as you can, but don’t allow naughtiness and lack of discipline override your desire for bonding. That will have negative consequences for you in the long run. Your puppy must be disciplined when required.
More Tips For Bonding With Your Puppy
All members of the household should bond with your puppy. Don’t worry if the puppy favors one person over another. Bonding with the family or household provides them with a variety of circumstances and people which is good socialization training.
- Training. All puppies need training and positive reinforcement. This helps them to bond with you and make them comfortable in any situation. They need someone to look up to, and training fulfills that need.
- Playing. All puppies have bundles of energy. Instead of letting them play on their own with a toy, join in. Find interactive puppy toys that enable you to play together. Let them see you as a fun, playful owner. That is a nice balance to the disciplined and serious owner you sometimes have to be.
- Hand feeding. Your puppy needs to learn to eat and drink from their own bowls. Hand feed then sometimes to get them used to the idea of sharing and trust. Don’t do this from the dinner table though. The last thing you want is a dog that begs for food scraps every time you sit down to eat at the dinner table.
- Walking. Starting a walking routine with your puppy gives you a great relaxed time to be together. Don’t forget to train them how to walk with you, not to take you for a walk. Also remember, they are learning from you all of the time, so don’t allow them to misbehave on these walks.
- Quiet time. Sometimes being quiet and gently patting your puppy gives you a wonderful bonding moment. When they are tired is the perfect time.
- Grooming. Being hands on and brushing and grooming your puppy is great bonding time. It shows them they can trust you because you are being gentle, making them feel good, and you are nice and close.
Bonding with your puppy is an ongoing process. Your bond will only increase as your puppy grows into an adult, and you spend more and more time together.
Puppies need to feel safe and loved, and at the same time, taught discipline and socialization.
Done right, forming a bond with your puppy is fun and will leave a mark on your heart as you guide this little canine into adulthood.
Enjoy the time together.
Writer: Craig Taylor