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Dog Blog: How Dogs Choose Their Favorite Person

So sometimes, a dog’s favorite person is not always their primary caregiver. How do dogs choose their favorite person? And is it possible to change their minds?

Of course, every dog is different, but some generalizations apply.


Socialization matters

Many dogs bond hardest to whoever cares for them during their key socialization period, which occurs between birth and six months. At this age, puppies’ brains are incredibly receptive, and their early social experiences influence them for the rest of their lives. That’s why it’s so important to ensure your puppy has positive interactions with a wide range of people, places, and things.

 

Attention (and affection) increases the bond

Most dogs tend to bond to the person who gives them the most attention. For example, in a family with two parents and two kids, the dog may favor the parent who fills their bowl every morning and takes them for a walk every evening. But for some dogs, it’s not just the amount of attention and affection that matter, but the quality.

 

Positive association is key

Of course, a dog is going to love the person who always plays tug of war or gives them loads of their favorite treat. On the flipside, dogs often react poorly to people with whom they have bad associations (like the vet). Positive associations lead to positive dog-human relationships.  

 

Human personality and dog breed play a part

Dogs often choose a favorite person who matches their own energy level and personality. In addition, some dog breeds are more likely to bond to a single person, making it more likely that their favorite person will be their only person.

 


How to become your dog’s favorite person

If you have the feeling you’re not your dog’s favorite person, don’t despair. You can improve and increase the bond between you. The easiest (and most fun) way is to spend at least 30 minutes of focused, one-on-one time together each day. This doesn’t include walks, yard time, or watching TV together. Your bonding time should be active and focused.

  • Play fetch, tug, or hide and seek.
  • Have a training session. Working on new skills, or reinforcing old ones, is a great way to bond!
  • Try a sport like agility or flyball where you and your dog can work together as a team.
  • Food (in healthy, appropriate quantities) is love. Aim for wholesome protein sources with limited fillers, and try some homemade meals for your dog. Make meal time a bonding activity by integrating eye contact.
  • Give your dog a grooming session or massage.

Bonding occurs naturally between dogs and the people who treat them well. Take good care of your dog, socialize him, give him positive experiences, and respect his unique personality.

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Carol
Carol
1 year ago

How can I get our dog to like me too? I had surgery and s not allowed to do anything for 6 weeks. Now our puppy is 5 months and does not listen to me. Makes me sad.

Nicole
Nicole
1 year ago

My dog is super attached to me. He is a new puppy appx 3 months. But every time my young son gets close on the couch near us, or if he’s sleep, or just out of the blue the puppy turns into a hate machine. Snarling, growling, showing teeth, and lunging to bite anyone around. Very dangerous. What is going on? He is quite docile and loving the remainder of the time. I call him bipolar ha,ha. I can say that because he was supposed to be my emotional support animal.

Did I get a bad apple? Is he dangerous? I feel in harms way.

Yepthatone
Yepthatone
7 months ago
Reply to  Nicole

Look up resource guarding, it also applied to people guarding.

Maddie
Maddie
5 months ago
Reply to  Nicole

It may be a protective thing, a bit like when you have a baby and they reach a stage where they don’t want the older sibling near their mum. If he loves you to a very large extent it may be that he doesn’t want your son invading on his time having fuss from you. Hope this helps! How is he now?

Vernell
Vernell
1 year ago

We adopted this mix male puppy. He is about 13 – 15 lbs. We’ve had him since 2016. At first he was fine with my husband but now, he attacks him when he come into the room where I sit and watch TV. It’s not all the time and they do play together in the living room. The dog is so attached to a tennis ball, has to have it even when he sleeps and goes outside. He constantly wants to play catch. About two months ago, he actually bit him on the calf of his leg. My husband is now afraid of the dog if he needs to enter this room. I love this little dog like a baby – he is very protective and know when my husband is coming to the room. My husband has not always been nice to the dog. I won’t give this dog up because we are so bonded –

Wayne Clark
11 months ago
Reply to  Vernell

Puppies are smart.

You prepare a meal for YOU and you eat what you want of it and let him watch and when you ‘re done you show him the food you have just eaten and now he is allows to eat. If you can walk take him on a hike he has never been on and he will follow your lead. overtime you will be lead

genesis
genesis
9 months ago
Reply to  Vernell

yes i agree

Tracey
Tracey
6 months ago
Reply to  Vernell

Your dog thinks he is higher in the chain than your husband and it will only get worse if he is allowed to think that. He needs to watch you two hug and eat together. Put him outside the lounge room and let your husband come in first. If your dog tries to attack him, put him outside again. He will realise pretty quickly where his position is and it will be your job to keep it that way (no doubt he will challenge it from time to time). If you stop doing everything for your dog and let your husband be the one to feed him, play with him and walk him, his attitude will change accordingly. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Tara
Tara
5 months ago
Reply to  Tracey

The whole “hierarchy” theory concerning dogs and wolves has been debunked. That is terrible advice and that way of thinking is detrimental to dogs. The dog needs to associate positive happenings when her husband is around and interacting w/him or her. Starting w/giving a treat every time he enters the room. At first have him just enter, her give the dog treat, him leave right away. Keep up w/that consistently for maybe a week. Then progress to giving the dog a treat every time he enters, continue that for another week or so. If this is done slowly and every time he goes in the room, the dog will know something good is going to happen when he shows up. Hence the positive association, husband = treat. Husband should also NEVER EVER treat the dog badly ever again, it will ruin any progress made.

Kenyale
Kenyale
6 months ago

So I have a pit bull mixed w a husky. She’s approximately 6months & I’ve had her for about 3weeks now. When we first got her my boyfriend & I thought she was deaf. She didn’t respond to any type of sound what so ever. After a few days she started to come around but it’s like she instantly got attached to me. She follows me every time I move and I’m afraid that’s unhealthy. She doesn’t like to be Without me. When I leave out for errands or work she cries when I go to the bathroom and don’t let her in she cries. She not alone I’ll leave her with my boyfriend. But he said when I’m not around she complies but when I’m around she pays him no mind. It’s weird I don’t know.

Verity
Verity
6 months ago
Reply to  Kenyale

Yes, in my case my mum is you, and I am in the situation ur boyfriend is. When My mum leaves the room and shuts the door our dog barks and scratches. If I leave the room and shut the door, she’ll lift her head up from my mum’s lap, and stay still. When i come back down she’ll sometimes come to the door to greet me. I have made her like me more by taking her out on walks by myself and telling my mum that I’m feeding the dog. It is improving slightly (I’m 12 by the way, not an adult living at home with my mum getting jealous of the dog . ) Maybe leave the house sometimes, without making a big fuss, and spend the day out, leaving you boyfriend and dog alone. I have found that if I am alone with my dog, she will be better with me, even after mum comes back! Hope this helps, not sure how long ago you posted your question!

Olivia
Olivia
5 months ago
Reply to  Verity

I’m in a similar situation. This is helpful! Thank you!

Tiara
Tiara
4 months ago
Reply to  Kenyale

It’s because your dog loves you a lot and maybe when you bought it you were the only person so that’s why she wants you every time

Keya
Keya
6 months ago

My new puppy was brought home from my friend’s house 3 hours away. On the car way back he shook and stood on the floor. When I got him out, he ran under my car. My oldest daughter coaxed him out and now he is bonded to her. He cowers with me, wont come to me, and runs from me when I come into the room. How can I bond to him? I walked him. Fed him. Talked soft to him. Still scared of me.

Clover
Clover
2 months ago
Reply to  Keya

So I’m not a professional, but I know that if you keep trying to bond with the dog by feeding it, walking it, playing with it(only if it lets you, of course), then your dog will come around eventually. It sounds like it is very anxious, so don’t make any sudden movements or make loud noises around your dog. Hope this helps!

Jazzy m
Jazzy m
5 months ago

So I have a three month old chiweeine male iam the one that mainly takes care of him and plays with him more than my boyfriend does . When I’m gone my bf says he’s an angel and goes in his cage almost all day until I get back than as soon as I get back he’s excited and he is mean to me and nips my feet and always wants to bite my hands . why is that ?? also he never tries biting my bf lol we want to know why he acts like that with the person he like most lol

Adrian perez
Adrian perez
3 months ago

This dog was 5 years old and my tia had asked us to keep him for a little bit there are 6 of us in my family and 6 in my tias family. We moved and we took him with us. I have not spent any time with this dog and my siblings have spent all the time with him. When he gets called by anyone he doesn’t listen but when he’s called by me he does listen he likes cuddling with me and licking me and believe it or not seeks my approval for going outside to go The bathroom. The point is I spent probably about an hour with him out of a whole month and my sibling spend hours upon hours with him. But when I’m gone he barks and does the sad dog noise when I’m with him he’s happy he wags his tail with me and only me. Why?

unknown
unknown
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian perez

it is probably because he feels that he has gotten too much love from your siblings and he feels like he wants to get to know you more. He has probably gotten bored with your sibling company and wants your love for a change

Madison Finley
1 month ago

Awesome post! Our dog is too friendly and loves everyone else. I’m not sure who his favorite person is.

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