Strengthen Your Bond with Your Dog, Enter a New ‘Universe’
Research shows the bond between a person and a dog is similar to the bond experienced between infant and parent.
Author Caroline Knapp described the sometimes-surreal experience of bonding with a dog, it is the essence of why so many of us open our homes, and our hearts, to these animals: “Before you get a dog, you can’t quite imagine what living with one might be like; afterward, you can’t imagine living any other way …
I once heard a woman who’d lost her dog say that she felt as though a color were suddenly missing from her world: the dog had introduced to her field of vision some previously unavailable hue, and without the dog, that color was gone.
That seemed to capture the experience of loving a dog with eminent simplicity. I’d amend it only slightly and say that if we are open to what they have to give us, dogs can introduce us to several colors, with names like wildness and nurturance and trust and joy.
… I also believe that dogs can — and often do — lead us into a world that is qualitatively different from the world of people, a place that can transform us.
Fall in love with a dog, and in many ways you enter a new orbit, a universe that features not just new colors but new rituals, new rules, a new way of experiencing attachment.”
Taking steps to strengthen your bond with your dog, even if you feel it is already strong already will add to the enjoyment and closeness experienced when in each other’s presence.
Below are some ways to strengthen your bond are, as follows:
1. Obedience Training: This is important not only to teach your dog basic commands, but also to teach you how to communicate with your dog. You can start positive-reinforcement obedience training when your dog is a puppy and continue on from there, exploring different types of training together. Over the years we have owned many dogs, and by far the best relationship with with Milo, a Giant Schnauzer, that was Schutzhund 3 (SchH3) trained.
2. Trick Training: After obedience training, you can move on to teaching your dog how to do tricks, like shaking hands or jumping through a hoop. Many dogs enjoy being mentally stimulated, and many owners enjoy working with their dogs to teach them tricks.
3. Hiking: Taking a hike together in a natural environment is a treat for both of owner and dog. They bond easily, as they both take in the sights, sounds, scents and fresh air while out on a nature trail. Plus, it is great exercise for dog and owner alike.
4. Agility Training: Agility training is a sport an owner can do with his/her dog, either just for fun or competitively. Teaching the dog how to run through agility courses filled with various obstacles, like tunnels, teeter-totters and weaving around poles. Dogs that enjoy agility training will reap great mental and physical rewards, plus owner and dog will grow closer as you work through the courses together.
5. Nose (scent) Work: Another recreational or competitive activity you can do with your dog is nose work, which, at the competitive level, was created and sanctioned by the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW). Nose work training teaches your dog to find one of e scents, wherever you decide to hide it. In nose work competitions, there are 4 locations involved in searching: interiors, exteriors, containers and vehicles. If you really want to see your dog’s tracking potential, and learn how to engage in tracking games with your dog, consult a local trainer or tracking club.
6. Gaze into your dogs Eyes: One of the most powerful ways to bond with your dog is also one of the simplest: making eye contact. When you and your dog look into each other’s eyes, it triggers an increase in levels of oxytocin, aka the love hormone. Oxytocin plays a major role in bonding among humans and, it turns out, its effects may transcend to different species. Specifically, oxytocin reduces stress responses and anxiety while increasing feelings of trust, relaxation and bonding. So the next time you want to connect with your dog, simply look into his eyes.
Spend the time, connect with your dog, it opens a whole new world for both of you.
Have a terrific weekend.