How to really bond with your new puppy shouldn’t be a problem that keeps you at night. I know that bringing your brand-new puppy home can feel both exhilarating and overwhelming. I can’t be the only one that has felt insecure, wondering what if the new baby will even like me? But after having the privilege of learning how to bond quickly with many puppies throughout my lifetime I picked up some wisdom that will make your own bonding experience easier.
Here are simple techniques that you can use with your dog to strengthen their bond with you and turn your new family member into your lifelong best friend. Creating a bond with your dog should be stress-free, consistent, and relaxing.
Your dog wants to be around you and trust you completely. I know it might not seem like it, but even the most suspicious and insecure puppies just want love. And in a secure, pressure-free environment your puppy will bond with you naturally.
While bonding with a young puppy is often easier, these techniques can also work for older dogs and newly adopted or rescued dogs. More patience and time may be needed to win an older dog’s heart, but his trust and respect will be well worth your efforts.
Building a Lasting Bond with your New Dog
Focus on your dog’s unique personality to capture his heart
The first 3-6 months of a puppy’s life are the best time to focus on ” really bond with your puppy ” techniques and basic training with your new puppy. Spending time in your presence is an invaluable key to helping your newly adopted puppy feel like a member of your family. By spending time with you your puppy will learn what is meaningful to you and learn to love and trust you as his person.
How to Quickly Bond with Your New Puppy
If your puppy was adopted by a loving dog breeder that was hands-on with the puppies from birth, bonding with your puppy will be much easier. A socialized puppy already trusts humans and believes that he belongs to them. You will still need to follow the steps below to learn how to connect with your new dog’s family members. However, bonding with a puppy that has been raised with love and commitment is much easier than with one that has not been socialized at a young age.
With a foundation built on trust, you will develop a life-long friendship with your new dog.
Bonding with Rescued or Adopted Dogs
Adopting an adult dog is a beautiful privilege. Remember that he has already experienced life in ways that you were not responsible for. Fear or stress may make bonding more difficult if you’ve rescued or adopted a dog with an unknown history. Be patient. There are many ways to show them that you will provide the comfort and dependability they deserve.
A neglected or abused dog takes much longer to bond and requires more work. The security you offer a rescued dog will change their whole world. You have the power to show them that this time is different, that they can trust you, and that they are safe with you.
How long does it take for a dog to bond with a new owner?
Bonding can happen in a few weeks to a few years — read more to find out why.
The ideal time for a brand-new puppy to bond with its owners is during the first 3 to 16 weeks of a puppy’s life. Puppies instinctively start to socialize and attach to humans, other dogs, and pets during this formative age. Puppies raised in a healthy environment will bond quickly with their owners, within a few weeks or months once they are settled in their new home.
The relationship between an owner and a dog begins as soon as the dog joins the family. Once the puppy or adult dog is settled in the home, bonding and building a relationship should be the priority.
There are also times in an Estrela Mountain Dog’s life when they form attachments to their person more quickly. You can take advantage of these phases to reinforce and nourish your bond with them.
How to Quickly Bond with Your New Puppy: 7 Easy Steps
While this list is not an exhaustive explanation of how to bond with your puppy, it is a balanced start to creating a life-long attachment. It’s also a useful checklist to see how you can bond better with your Estrela Mountain Dog.
Focus on what works for you and your dog, and don’t get too caught up in doing all the bonding activities and exercises on the list. Select the bonding activities that your new puppy enjoys most. “If a behavior is adaptive, one way of ensuring that that behavior occurs is that it’s rewarding,” quote by Prof Vivian Zayas, psychology. Both dogs and humans bond faster through behaviors that they enjoy.
1. Be consistent with your puppy.
Sometimes your new puppy frustrates you. But losing your temper will only slow bonding.
Think about the routines and environmental stability you want to offer your new puppy after bringing him home. Select a place for your puppy’s bed, dog dishes, and other accessories, and introduce him to his new environment. If you live in a large house, start by introducing the puppy to a room or two in which he can feel comfortable. Don’t let your puppy wander around feeling lost. Instead, give him a sense of belonging by giving him a consistent routine and by leaving his things in the same place where he can find them. Don’t move his dishes around all the time or his bed until he feels comfortable and at home.
Show your puppy emotional stability:
- Speak calmly even if the puppy makes you upset
- Be patient. Your puppy is new to your family and does not understand what is expected of them yet.
- Give them lots of calm affirmation, give verbal praise
Take the time to show your dog around his environment and what you want him to do. Take it slowly over days and do not overwhelm your puppy. Give your puppy non-pressured time to figure things out on his own.
Don’t be mean or harsh when correcting undesirable behavior.
Take it slow for the first few days. Your puppy needs to feel relaxed in his new environment before he can start bonding with you.
2. Practice reading your dog’s body language
Practice reading your dog’s body language and responding accordingly. This provides security and comfort for your dog in novel environments.
Learn these signs of communication from your dog:
- Eye contact
- Body actions
- Vocal communication
- When your puppy shows signs of fear or anxiety when approached by another pet, step between your dog and the other animal. Remove your dog from the situation or comfort him. Resolve situations in a way that promotes you as a responsible leader.
- This cements your place as a strong and capable leader in the eyes of your dog. Your dog will learn to trust you and bond with you as his owner.
By observing your dog in different situations and communicating effectively, you will be able to predict your dog’s responses in different situations. You will be able to diffuse them before he acts out in fear.
3. Consider Letting Your Dog Sleep Near You
Should you let your dog sleep in your bed? I can’t answer that, because I’m not you :). What I can tell you is that pups that are allowed to sleep close to their owners ( I prefer a crate bed ) are often quieter and bond quicker with their new human family members. Letting your dog sleep near you can ease anxiety and provide feelings of safety and security. Sleeping near you will help you really bond with your new puppy quickly.
If you want to provide this close security for your new puppy I recommend getting a comfortable dog crate that just so fits your new puppy and allows him to stretch out, but is not so big that it gives him extra space to pee in overnight. You want to buy him a big comfy bed-sized crate, but not a room-sized crate. This will help you potty train your puppy faster and still give him the security by sleeping near you but not all up in your space.
4. Bonding with grooming
Touching your brand-new puppy and gentle grooming sessions are a two-for-one win for your relationship. Brushing will encourage bonding and accustom your dog to enjoy his grooming sessions for life.
If your dog seems shy or fearful at first, talk gently and affectionately while offering him a favorite treat. Move slowly and calmly and give both verbal and physical affection to relax them
Never force an older dog to accept grooming if they show signs of previous trauma.
For thick-coated breeds such as the Estrela Mountain Dog or Saint Bernard, daily brushing sessions will accustom them to the weekly sessions they will need to maintain their shiny coat. Time spent touching and brushing your puppy will create a strong bond of trust between your puppy and you.
Be delicate when brush bonding and use a gentle grooming tool. A gentle grooming glove is appropriate for a young puppy or smooth-coated breed. For an adult breed with a thick coat, we recommend a stripper brush used very gently after the dog is accustomed to the glove.
After the quick training session, reward the dog with a treat and lots of verbal affirmation.
5. Quickly Bond With Your New Puppy and Focus on positive reinforcement and praise.
Dogs bond at different rates, but all need positive reinforcement to learn.
Reinforcing positive behaviors give your dog confidence and a sense of belonging. Confidence enables your dog to socialize and build trust in his owners and environment.
Focus on catching your dog in the act of appropriate behavior and reinforce this behavior using treats, praise, and positive affection. By rewarding the behaviors we want with praise we encourage our dogs to continue that behavior.
- Does your dog come to you and lie down near you? Calmly offer them a small treat and scratch their head.
- Does your puppy show an interest in playing with you? Take 5 minutes to get on his level and play with him and his favorite toys.
- On walks, is your puppy attentive to you and looks to you for a response? Praise him and offer him a small treat from your hand.
Allow your dog time to be his unique self. Do not pressure him to respond, but give him time to think through situations and react. Always focus on the positive behaviors your dog does and reward them. Remember, puppies and dogs repeat behaviors they get rewarded for.
6. Favorite Exercise to Quickly Bond with a new Puppy? Take your dog for daily “smell” walks.
Walks are for sniffing
Structured walks < sniff walks
Leash training is often a top priority after bringing home a new puppy. Puppies are taught to heel and are powerwalked for exercise and to tire them out. While structured walks are understandable (no one wants to be dragged through town by their future 100 lb. family member) sniff or smell walks are an overlooked activity that has many benefits for a dog and his bond with his handler.
The mental activity a puppy receives on a slow sniff walk is much greater than on a fast, heeled walk. A shorter sniff walk will tire dogs out faster and they will feel more relaxed and balanced. Puppies that are given regular sensory exercise are less destructive and calmer at home.
How to take your puppy on a Smell Walk
Pick a peaceful walking route, such as a park or other non-paved surface. While on his new adventure, let your puppy stop and sniff all the interesting smells as he walks. Let your dog choose the pace. By allowing them to decide how long they spend investigating you are empowering them to use their senses and problem-solve. This is a very effective way for a stressed-out puppy or newly adopted dog to de-stress. A 2019 study proved that extra time spent sniffing released higher levels of dopamine and made dogs feel happier and more relaxed.
Take along a bag of scented treats such as these to reward your dog when he turns to check in with you and praise him for his affection.
Use a long line for a better sniffing experience
A long line is a leash that gives your dog more freedom to run and explore. By using a comfortable long-line leash your dog can explore safely and learn about his environment with semi-independence.
How to use the long line:
- Choose a safe area away from traffic, like a park or field
- Attach the long line preferable to a harness
- Allow them to sniff and roam at their own pace
It’s more relaxing and natural for your dog to explore in a long line, than being held closely on a regular leash.
The long line also creates opportunities for connection. Your dog is more apt to check in with you and come back for affection than when attached to a short leash.
Take new paths
When it’s safe, let your dog lead the way on new sniffing adventures and see where your dog takes you. It’s not only a fun thing to do, but it also lets you develop trust with your dog.
Puppies thrive on routine, but they also need a chance to play and explore. Never force your dog toward other pets, people, or objects that frighten them. If your dog shows fear or anxiety try to diffuse the situation or lead your dog around the object. Objects that your dog shows significant fear of, such as blowing paper bags, can be added to his environment later where he can accustom himself to them in a pressure-free space.
By protecting your puppy and not forcing him, he will learn to trust you. He will also learn to see you as a family member that will protect him and has his highest interests in mind.
7. Quickly Bond with Your New Puppy by Playing Games
Puppies bond with their littermates by playing, wrestling, and discovering life together. Your new dog will expect to bond with you by doing the same activities. Play produces positive emotions in dogs (source).
Playing provides quality bonding time and can also be an opportunity to practice obedience training and mental stimulation.
Interacting with them during play helps you learn about your dog’s unique personality.
- Does he like to play hide and seek?
- Does he enjoy nose work?
- Does he like mind games and puzzles?
When you play with your dog you are giving him the benefits of your attention, connection, and appreciation. Dogs that are played with are less aggressive and destructive and engage better in obedience activities. Studies show that human interaction with their dog is critical for bonding in the relationship (source).
Occupy your dog with toys when you go out
A bored puppy is a naughty puppy. Highly intelligent dogs will find ways to occupy themselves, and they do not know what activities are acceptable to you unless you show them.
Provide toys and activities for your dog to enjoy when you go out such as these Kong Chew Toys.
Don’t leave your dog alone for hours on end with nothing to do.
Dogs who have toys and enrichment items to occupy themselves are less prone to separation anxiety, unwanted behavior, and depression.
Mentally stimulating activities, puzzles, and games
Mentally stimulating play keeps your dog’s mind sharp and builds communication. Brain-stimulating play is a necessity for intelligent dogs. It gives them opportunities to use their creativity and flex their mental muscles.
Games will keep your puppy out of trouble and provide healthy bonding and learning experiences. Praise and treat your puppy while solving puzzles and playing games together. Your dog will focus on your cues to help them solve treat puzzles and other games. This will provide a stable foundation of teamwork for obedience training or any other activities you might want to do with your dog in the future.
Your dog’s breed and unique personality will determine what kinds of games it prefers to play. A dog with a low prey drive should not be taught to fetch, but a dog with a high prey drive will enjoy fetching.
Experiment with the ideas from this Best List of toys for Guardian Puppies where you can find highly recommended games and puzzles featuring fun mental stimulation activities.
8. Quickly Bond With Your New Puppy by using a Tether.
A tether is simply a long leash that keeps your dog close to you, but your hands are free.
When you first bring your Estrela Mountain Dog puppy or rescue home it’s very helpful to tether them to you so they follow you everywhere you go.
During this early acclimation and bonding phase tethering your dog to you with a lightweight leash clipped to your waist belt helps avoid your new EMD from getting into trouble. So many terrible things happen in the first few days or weeks that it’s wise to supervise your dog when they’re not kenneled or in a 100% dog-proof area.
Sadly, many times a fearful dog will dig under a fence to run away out of stress. If a dog escapes and is confused it could have an accident or un for miles. Don’t let this happen. Keep you and your pup safe and stress free.
But tethering your dog to you allows you to supervise them, keep them safe, and gain an extra boost in bonding with you!
This comfortable waist leash is a wonderful tool to have for tethering since it allows your hands to stay free while keeping your dog close.
When your puppy goes outside to potty or is in the yard make sure you have them on a secure long-line leash to keep them safe if they are not familiar with you.
Fences aren’t guaranteed to keep a determined puppy from jumping over them or digging under them to go explore. In addition, your dog might not know a come command yet.
As your dog begins to learn their routine and rules you can increase the distance of the tether by attaching a longer line. This is both indoors and out in the yard.
Never tether your dog outside alone, unsafely, or unattended. Know your area tethering laws and never jeopardize your pup’s safety. If you can’t watch your dog on a tether, give your dog its own private safe space such as a big kennel or very secure fenced area. Sometimes, your dog might need alone time to relax or decompress from strenuous play.
9. Establish boundaries for your puppy’s success if you want to really bond with your New Puppy.
Make sure everyone in your family follows the same rules so your EMD is set up for success
Why do you need to set rules/boundaries for your new puppy?
Because dogs need to know what is and are not acceptable for them in your house and their environment establishing rules for your puppy will keep him safe, healthy, and secure. Dogs need love and want boundaries.
Your puppy doesn’t come knowing what you expect of him. It’s your job to teach them the ropes by developing rules to help them succeed as a family member. Dogs do not understand exceptions to rules, so make sure to get everyone living in the house on board so as not to confuse him. Boundaries provide stability and remove stress. Dogs thrive when they know where the boundaries are. Spend time setting consistent boundaries reinforced with positive training and rewards enabling your dog to trust his humans in his environment.
Consider tethering your puppy to you while teaching boundaries
By including your puppy in your everyday home routine, you will increase your bond with the puppy while showing your puppy his boundaries in his environment. A lightweight leash attached to you sets the puppy up for success and prevents him from getting into trouble as he learns from you.
Tethering is especially helpful for LGD puppies. They can experience their outdoor surroundings while learning from their owner what is and is not their priority/job. Tethering makes leash training easier, avoids unnecessary negative punishment, and sets the puppy up for success. Tethering allows you to correct small actions before they become habits and is a proven bonding activity.
Examples of Boundaries you want to Establish with your Dogs:
- Protect rooms that are off-limits with a pet-safe gate ( like this ). Don’t expect your adorable puppy to know he isn’t allowed there without a visual boundary.
- If your dog is not allowed to stand up at the windows, do not allow him to start as a puppy. I cared for a 125-pound dog once for a friend and that dog slobbered 6 feet up on my windows. She was permitted to do this at home and considered it acceptable everywhere.
- If your puppy is not allowed on the bed, do not allow him to occasionally sleep with you. Place his crate in a corner of the room if he suffers from separation anxiety. Make it clear that this is his bed, and your bed is yours. Keep the rules consistent. If you allow him to sleep with you after 5 minutes of whining, you have rewarded the whining, and he will whine longer next time.
Strong Bonding Signs In Dogs
How will you know if your new puppy is really bonding with you?
Here are seven signs of a strong bond with your dog.
- They rest their head on you.
- They press their head into you when you are talking to them.
- They are expressive and make eye contact with you.
- They initiate play with you.
- Frequently checking in to see where you’re at.
- They perform obedience for you and try to understand you.
- They have a desire to be near you and enjoy your company.
Really bonding with your new puppy takes time. And as the saying goes, ” Good things take time, and the best things take more time.” Patience, consistency and time will all contribute to your new puppy learning to love and trust you. Provide consistent boundaries, a safe environment, quality time, and lots of love and snuggles. Before you know it you will have laid a foundation of love and respect that will provide you both with many years of companionship. Isn’t that what we all truly desire anyways?
Check out these helpful companion posts: How to Stop Your Puppy Biting Fast
Learn More? Estrela Mountain Dog FAQ
Looking for an Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy? How to Buy An Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy