How to Bond With Your New Puppy!

You want your puppy to bond with you and your family. Bonding is especially important with new puppies, shy dogs, and if you have children.

Being proactive with socialization exercises will help your dog learn to bond with ALL members of the family including, children, elderly parents, friends, and extended family.

Socialization Period

The socialization period is the easiest time to teach your puppy to bond with you and become comfortable with your home and lifestyle. The socialization period of your puppies’ development is between 3 to 14 weeks.

When you bring a dog into your home, bonding happens naturally (with dogs of all ages) it is important to remember that a puppy is most impressionable during this short socialization period.

Regardless of when you start, we recommend you dedicate time (and lot’s of treats) to ensure bonding happens quickly.

Hand Feeding 

Raising a dog to be loving and confident with people is easy. All it takes is patience, treats, and a little bit of Zen.

A young puppy is dependent on their mother for nurturing, protection, and food. When you bring your puppy home he will be confused and try to mouth, bite, and suck on fingers, hands, hair…anything he can get his little mouth on.

We recommend starting training right away, rewarding outdoor bathroom behavior and teaching your puppy their name with positive reinforcement. The trick is to make sure you say “Yes!” in a positive voice BEFORE giving your dog a treat to ensure treats are a reward and not a bribe!

Also, young children and friends should participate, by playing games and giving your puppy treats, this will help your puppy bond and associate people as his new family. Teaching your dog to take treats from your hands has some very nice side effects.

Hand feeding games reduces unwanted play biting and nipping. Ideally, your puppy is learning to gently (and patiently) take food from your hands. Imagine daily play sessions where your puppy learns to gently take food from your children’s hands instead of trying to nip, chew clothes, carpet, or the couch!

Note: You still should feed a majority of your dogs meals out of a bowl, just take 1 meal-a-day to dedicate to training and bonding games.

Rewarding and Socializing

In addition to rewarding good behaviors with positive reinforcement, use treats to socialize your puppy to new people, places, and things. Simply hand-feeding your dog outside on walks, or in and around your house will boost your dogs confidence! This is especially important with getting your puppy comfortable with meeting new people, loud trucks, and other city noises.

On walks, by remembering the treats, you can reduce how much stuff your dog eats from the ground. Instead of constantly searching the ground for things to put in their mouth, they are rewarded — “YES!” followed by a treat — by looking and focusing on you! See: Name Game

The dangers of too many treats!

Many people worry about using too much (or any) food during training. Food is a primal need and strong motivator, most owners waste an opportunity twice-a-day by giving their dog bowls of food in exchange for nothing.

At Zen Dog Training, we recommend that in addition to treats, you use some of your puppy’s daily food for training. When you proactively substitute the food bowl with obedience training, socialization exercises, and taking treats from your fingers and hands your — dog will learn to expect good things from people!

All-Inclusive Training

Young children should be included but supervised and especially encouraged to move on to obedience games as another great way to improve the bond. Toddlers and those too young to participate can be included too. During socialization exercises adults can toss treats or place them at the feet of toddlers or baby carriages to create positive associations.

Remember: You should still feed your puppy from the food bowl. However, taking one meal-a-day and dedicating that food to bonding, training, and socialization games will foster the kind of trust that is essential in having a confident “Zen Dog.”

Check out our 6 week Online Puppy Course for Zen Dog Training puppy games and solutions to: play biting, house training, leash walking…