Written by Dr Kate Mornement, Animal Behaviourist
Dogs have been our best friend for thousands of years. Humans and dogs co-evolved as the relationship they shared became mutually beneficial. Dogs protected us and helped us with hunting. We helped dogs by feeding them and providing them shelter.
Fast forward to modern day and a lot has changed! We rely on dogs for many different things, and the main benefits we get from the relationship is friendship, increased exercise and what psychologists call ‘unconditional positive regard.’
But our dogs still rely on us for their survival. We provide them with food, health care, exercise, companionship and shelter.
The human-dog bond is eons in the making and something pretty special, but how can you actually tell if your dog has a close connection with you?
There are a number of tell-tale signs that you and your dog have built a strong connection.
Here are a few of the most common signs:
Your dog is always happy to see you
If your dog barks and jumps up excitedly on you after an absence it’s safe to say they missed you and are very glad you’re home.
Your dog chooses to spend lots of time with you
Choosing to spend lots of time with you when you’re home is another good sign that your dog has a close connection with you. Dogs tend to want to engage in activities they enjoy so wanting to be with you when you’re there is a sign your dog really enjoys your company.
Your dog allows you to do things it may not really like
Things like trimming their nails, or administering medication. Not all dogs enjoy being brushed or having their nails trimmed or teeth cleaned. If your dog allows you to do these things, even though you can tell they’re not liking it much, that’s a sign that your dog has a lot of trust in you and a great relationship and that they’re willing to go through some temporary discomfort.
Your dog is always seeking your attention
Attention-seeking behaviours like pawing at you, jumping up into your lap and even licking you indicate that your dog is trying to get your attention. They do these behaviours because they often result in something they enjoy, like attention, a pat or a belly rub.
Not all dogs enjoy and seek out affection, however, so don’t take it personally if you have a dog like this.
It doesn’t mean they don’t have a close connection with you, rather they show their connection in other ways.
You can continue to build a strong connection with your dog using positive reinforcement (treats and training rewards, for example) for desirable behaviours, and by spending time together doing activities you both enjoy.