How to bond with your dog?

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Question: How to bond with a dog and to make sure they’re comfortable at home?

Let say I have a new dog and I need practical tips on how to bond with my dog. What can you do to make sure the new pup is comfortable in his new home? What to do if you have other pets or small children in the home? Thank you!


Never use punishment to try to train your dog! Positive reinforcement dog training means that you focus on good behaviors, which will eventually eliminate problem behaviors. For example, when a dog remains seated instead of jumping up on you, you give them lots of praise and a treat. If they jump up on you, immediately walk away and ignore them for a few minutes. With time, dogs realize they get what they want (your attention and a treat) when they do what you want. Studies have shown that training techniques that make use of negative reinforcement/punishment are stressful for dogs and can lead to anxiety-related behaviors. Using rewards and other forms of positive reinforcement is a more effective and humane way to train dogs. Never yell, hit, or punish your dog. Dogs remember negative experiences for a long time.

Early socialization is very important. A puppy who is given a lot of attention in a safe and loving home will usually be comfortable in many different situations when they are older. Peak socialization periods for dogs tend to occur around 6 to 8 weeks of age and again around 6 to 8 months of age/ When working with a new, adult dog, create a safe and respectful home that meets all their needs—good food, clean water, comfortable beds, toys, and lots of walks. Over time, the dog will start associating you with all the good things you provide.

Throwing a ball or a stuffed toy for your dog is one of the best games there is. It’s fun and a great way for your dog to get some exercise. If your dog hasn’t quite learned to “drop it” yet, play with multiple balls or toys. Most dogs will drop the first one to go chase a second. Avoid games like tug-of-war because some dogs forget their manners when they are in direct competition with a person.

Dogs should always have a safe place where they can escape and take a break when things get overwhelming, particularly when there are children in the home. A comfortable crate placed in a quiet corner usually works well. Make sure kids know never to disturb a pet who is in their crate, sleeping, eating, or drinking. Teach children to move slowly when petting a dog, and never grab ahold of their fur. Pets should always feel like they can walk away when they’ve had enough attention.

Tips from Our Vets

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If you have any specific health concerns related to your pet, please be sure to take the pet to your vet or an emergency vet, or if you have concerns related to something your pet may have eaten another option is to call a pet poison control line. Be aware that there is a fee to use these services. Two that we can recommend are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

Dr. Jennifer Coates
Dr. Jennifer Coates was valedictorian of her graduating class at the VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and has practiced in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is also the author of numerous articles and books including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian.