Adding a new puppy to your family is rewarding and thrilling. But aside from all those feel-good emotions, things are inevitably going to change around your household. Puppies are away from their mothers and siblings for the first time, and everything is scary and overwhelming.
It could be similar to bringing a baby home. Your new puppy may keep you up all night crying. They can be destructive. And let’s face it—potty training is never easy. Puppies come with all sorts of highs and lows. So, how can you bond with your new puppy and focus on a healthy relationship?
Top 10 Tips on How to Bond With Your Puppy
1. Give Patience and Understanding
Puppies are individuals with their own quirks and personalities. Some puppies will be so busy playing and exploring that they practically ignore you at first. Others will be so excited to have a new playmate that they won’t take any time at all warming up to you.
And some will be shy, timid, and fearful. These are the puppies that require the most patience, love, and understanding. But some of the most rewarding relationships spawn from gaining the trust of an unsure pup. Respect and respond to your puppy’s body language.
2. Let Your Puppy Nap on You
Your puppy will really be missing their own family. They’re going from snoozing in a dogpile—literally—to often sleeping by themselves. At first, they’re going to have a hard time digesting these big changes in routine. It can be a very lonely, confusing transition.
To alleviate those bad feelings, let your puppy take a nap on your lap while you’re in bed or watching TV. It will make them feel warm and safe, knowing someone is near. When they finally doze off, that’s how you know they are getting more comfortable with you.
3. Give Puppies All the Snuggles
This tip shouldn’t be hard to follow, because it will probably come second nature. Apart from continually wanting to romp around, your little guy or gal will want to cuddle with you. Take this time to give your puppy all of the affection you can. The closer they can feel to you, the easier they will bond with you.
One of the best things to do with a little puppy is cradling, kissing, and petting them. Showing physical attention is a way for you and your puppy to get to know one another. Pretty soon, you’ll have a full-grown dog trying to fit themselves on your lap.
4. Brush Puppies Regularly
Brushing your puppy offers a few beneficial things for your long-term relationship. First, they will develop trust in you when it comes to their body. Puppies will learn that when you brush them, you mean no harm.
Brushing will especially come in handy if you have a breed with long hair that mats easily. They will learn to be still instead of trying to fight you off every time you try. Most puppies will enjoy it because it feels so good—plus, it can develop a regular weekly routine!
5. Get Down on Your Puppy’s Level to Play
Your puppy won’t turn down a chance to play. They will probably wear you out within the first few days of having them. When you engage in play, make sure to get on their level. Introduce many types of toys and teach them how to play games.
The more you include yourself in interactive play, the closer your relationship will become. You can also teach your pup how rough to play and what is appropriate. You will eventually have favorite games you both can enjoy together—whether it be frisbee, fetch, or tug-o-war.
6. Include Your Puppy as Much as Possible
Remember—your puppy is in a new space, and they won’t like to be all by themselves much until they feel at home, so a great tip on how to bond with your puppy is to let them be with you as often as you can.
If you can’t keep an eye on them, you can use a crate or playpen to secure them. Then, bring your puppy into the same room as you. Sometimes, just being in the same area as their humans can help the two of you get closer.
7. Talk Softly to Your Puppy
Using a soft voice allows your puppy to relax. If you’ve ever noticed, animals respond when you use a very calm tone with them. Their nerves are going to be very high. Quiet environments, especially for the first several days, can make this introductory period a smooth one.
If you have the vocals for it, you can even try singing them sweet lullabies. If you’re not the greatest singer and want to leave it to the professionals, playing soft, relaxing music can soothe your puppy’s nerves.
8. Show Your Puppy Positive Reinforcement
Your puppy is learning everything for the very first time. They will make mistakes until they know how to behave. You’ll have to deal with them chewing on things, pooping on floors, and eating inedible objects. Instead of punishing your puppy harshly, reward them for good behavior.
A puppy is much more likely to repeat an action that gets praise from a person they love. If you teach your dog that good behavior gets a reward, they will want nothing more than to please you. That creates a rank of order and respect, teaching your dog you are the alpha.
9. Take Your Puppy on New Adventures
Your new puppy will want to explore the world, too. Let them come on car rides to run errands and take them to your next family barbeque. Socialize them as much as possible while they are young. The more confidence they build up early, the better they will behave in social settings.
Sheltered puppies are usually more reserved with strangers and situations outside of the home. If they go with you to dog parks, road trips, or hiking trails, it will give your dog something to look forward to every time you grab your keys.
10. Help Your Puppy Integrate into the Household
Your puppy will need to get used to your lifestyle. If you have children, other pets, or live-in mates, your new puppy will have to acclimate to everyone. Yes, even the most aloof cat who doesn’t want to be friends and your yappy neighbor dogs on the other side of the fence.
New faces can be intimidating. With each introduction, be your puppy’s wingman. It would help if you encouraged them to sniff, explore, and look around. Hang out with them as they check out their new surroundings. They will adapt before you know it.
The reason you choose to bring a puppy home is very likely because you want a new best friend. When you bond with your new puppy, you shape a lasting relationship that will never break. Take this time to help your puppy adjust, so they know they can rely on you their whole life through.
The more effort you put toward the connection upfront, the better it will be in the long run. Soon, you two will find your groove and everything will flow naturally.