In a household with multiple family people, it can be tempting to think about who is your doggo’s favourite family member. Does a dog favor the person they see as the “alpha”? Is it the person who gives them food? Is it the person they snuggle up with at night?
Well, we want to propose an alternative: stop thinking about whether your pooch has a favourite family member. Because honestly, dogs don’t really think about it that way. Sure, there may be a person in the house who makes most of the decisions, or gives them their food, or is the cuddliest at night. In a dog’s world, though, every member of the pack is valued and loved as long as there has been an effective bonding process. Research shows that dogs see Owners as their family and can bond with multiple humans over their lifetime.
Because of this finding, it’s actually much more useful to think about how everyone can strengthen their bond with the pooch instead of trying to figure out who is the favourite family member. With this in mind, here are some ways to ensure that each family member is getting quality time with the dog. That way, everyone can benefit from that wonderful puppy love equally.
It’s all about association
Your pooch is great at making associations for future reference. The bathroom, for instance, might have been a neutral, even interesting, part of the house before their first bath. Now, that room means bad news. Likewise, things like their leash, the car, the road you take to reach the dog park are all associated with good feelings.
Keep this in mind as you start the bonding process with your dog. Clearly, you can’t always avoid situations that are going to be negative for your furry friend. However, you want the majority of your interactions in be fun, loving, and full of treats.
Schedule one-on-one playdates
When everyone is home at the same time, it can be difficult for your dog to know where they should channel their attention. This is why it’s important to schedule alone time for each “favourite family member”.
Dog training experts suggest that any amount of one-on-one time can be beneficial for the bond – even just 15 minutes. The key is that, during this time, the dog receives 100% of the family member’s attention.
And it doesn’t have to be the same activity for each family member. If one of you is active and energetic, a longer dog walk is the perfect date. On the other hand, another family member might be more into curling up on the couch, which will mean belly rubs for the dog. The more invested the family member is in the bonding activity, the better the bond.
Here are some other activities that will help with the relationship-building process:
- Grooming – if your pooch is into it, that is. Focus more on brushing and massaging than bathing and teeth-cleaning.
- Training – while this may not seem like a very fun activity for a human, learning new tricks is mentally stimulating. It also helps to create strong connections between dogs and their Owners. Despite what the old saying implies, you can teach tricks to both young and old dogs.
- Mealtime – make dinner time a grand event by giving your dog lots of verbal encouragement. Stirring the food in the bowl, and asking them to do a simple command before you set the bowl down will also help. This is going to make meals, and thus the meal-giver, extra special.
Share the not-so-fun tasks
Often in a family, one member takes on the brunt of certain responsibilities. Examples can include clipping the dog’s nails, brushing their teeth, or taking them to the vet. And this is fine if the dog has already built a positive bond with that family member. However, if positive associations haven’t been made, there’s a risk of the dog seeing this family member as the bearer of all things bad.
The easiest way to avoid this association is to share the responsibilities. Take turns clipping your dog’s nails and brushing their teeth. Make sure that more than one favourite family member goes to the vet.
Whenever you do have to do these unpleasant tasks, ensure you give your dog plenty of love during and after. Follow up all negative experiences with a play session or cuddle fest to remind them that you love and care for them.
Everyone can be the favourite family member
In this article, we’ve discussed how everyone can pitch in to make sure the doggo is getting plenty of love. This is going to ensure that there is no single favourite family member, but that all of you are equally amazing in your doggo’s eyes.
Do you need someone to hold the fort while all the favourite family members are away? Book a Mad Paws Pet Sitter! From Adelaide to the Gold Coast, our Pet Minders are ready to join your pet’s second tier of favourite humans.