The bond between humans and their fur babies has prevailed for around 18,000 years. The dog-human bond has flourished because of the quite amazing fact that dogs pick up on human behaviour and social patterns more efficiently and more accurately than chimpanzees. This made the societal assimilation of dogs to the human way of living seamless.
But how does a dog-human-bond relationship work exactly?
Are the dogs just staying with us because they don’t need to work as hard to get the things they need? Or are they genuinely with us because of a child-to-parent style of bond?
It is believed and studied to be the latter. Dogs exhibit behaviours that are consistent with an attachment bond in relationships where there is a meaningful and non-punishment based dynamic. For example, one of the most common issues currently being exposed during the covid era, separation anxiety. Why would an animal, that doesn’t have any emotional ties to their owner, have that level of anxiety when they depart from the dog’s environment for any length of time? It’s something known as proximity seeking behaviour, which is consistent with attachment behaviour. Once you get a pup, you will never need to go to the bathroom alone! I suggest you read some works by Payne E. Bennet. I’ve cited one here, but I have also embedded a link.
There is a level of trust
Another behaviour that is consistent with the dog-human bond theory is the dog’s ability to approach and examine novel environments and people within the presence of their owners. This is a level of trust that is developed through experience and understanding of the idea that is we are together then the potential for injury or harm is low.
What does a dog-human bond mean from a training perspective? Well, it means that developing a trusting and mutually beneficial bond between you and your dog will promote an almost human like relationship with your pet. And let’s be honest… dogs are better than people most of the time.
Spend time with your dog!
How do you accomplish this relationship? Spend time with your dog. For the most part, it’s that simple. Just do stuff with your dog, it is so focussed on what you are doing and how you are feeling that it will be able to read you so fast after you essentially allow it to practice everyday.
Take, for example, my dog Watson. He understands me so well that he knows when we are going somewhere together and when it is time for him to stay home. When I am preparing my shaker cups for the gym, he will assume the position on the blanket we have for him. However, when I make a specific face with eye contact, he knows it time to party and he gets to come with me wherever we are going and he rushes excitedly to the door. Now that is a very simple example, but those interpretations are forever remembered by your pup and the more opportunities your dog must make those keen distinctions the better. Also, one of the best means of accomplishing an ever-stronger bond is by putting your dog to work. You give you pup some rewarding tasks, they will be even more excited to participate in whatever activities you are wanting to do. What this will also do is tire your dog out, so you will have play time when needed, then an understood rest time that follows. Heathy exercise!
The moral of the story is, love your dog, spend time with your dog, and they will return the favour tenfold.
I’m Chad Pierce, Furbaby’s dog trainer. You can reach me at Furbaby Pet Care for all your training needs. Thanks for your time here!
 Payne E, Bennett PC, McGreevy PD. Current perspectives on attachment and bonding in the dog-human dyad. Psychol Res Behav Manag. 2015 Feb 24;8:71-9. doi: 10.2147/PRBM.S74972. PMID: 25750549; PMCID: PMC4348122.