Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to Bond with Your Puppy at 8-12 weeks

How can you tell when your puppy has bonded to you? 
You can tell you have bonded with your new puppy when you have that feeling of total comfort, understanding, and ease with your puppy.  That you "get" them.  When they seem comfortable around you and in your house. They sit in your lap, they fall asleep on the floor near your feet, they become more calm around you.

Sitting with my buddy looking at the love, total trust (age 11 weeks)
How to Bond with your new Puppy
You must be patient because puppies can tire you out and do naughty things like bite and go nuts all of a sudden and try and bite your pants, your legs, your feet, etc.  Play with them by shaking a toy and then playing some tug of war.  Drag a toy on the ground for them to chase after and bite. Throw stuffed balls for them to chase and then call them back to your lap where you will lavish them with pets and kisses.  Always speak gently and in an excited tone to your puppy.  Let them explore, but when they come back to you lavish them with pets and attention..."Good boy! You're so good!"

Let them sleep on you.  Take them outside and walk around your yard with them on a leash, or dragging the leash behind them if they don't walk when you're holding it.  Take the puppy with you to a friend's house.  Invite friends over to come play. Give them lots of treats, like Zukes Mini Naturals or sliced bananas and apples.  In general, don't worry about being a huge disciplinarian.  It's more important to give hugs, not bark order or freak out.  I actually did the later at first and it kept us from bonding!

How long does it take to bond with your puppy?
Bonding is something that takes time.  In retrospect this seems so silly, but I totally expected the puppy to LOVE me and be completely bonded right away because, hey, he's a puppy right? And more than that he's a dog, he's supposed to love everything all the time!  I assumed he would know right away that I am his "owner." He sat in my lap when we went to pick him out, he licked our faces.  It seemed like he loved us already. Now, we must bear in mind that bringing the puppy home and being around them 24/7 is different than just a brief visit and their behavior will change.  Bonding takes time! Lots of time!
I've learned that just like with a relationship or friendship, love takes time to grow, develop, and deepen. Yes, even with a cute puppy!
I feel that it has taken roughly 3 weeks to 1 month for us to really bond...and I mean really bond.  Where I know he really loves me, respects me, and is comfortable in our home.  
At 8 weeks he definitely wanted to follow me everywhere, but he didn't always want to sit near me and every now and then you could tell he was a little scared and maybe looking for his littermates. He was also testing boundaries by trying to hump me every now and then.  This is completely normal, that's how dogs operate.  They have their ways of determining pack order....who's the boss? Well, lets find out by trying to hump!  Anyways, it perturbed me and I think kept me from feeling bonded because, well, being humped is awkward....ugh.  This is the point where I realized my initial assumptions about things were going to go were totally wrong.  When he was really tired though, he would sleep in my lap or on the couch.  I loved it.  It's a great way to bond!  Make sure you don't let them sleep like this all the time...they need long periods in their crate for deep sleep.  I would do this for ~10 minutes or so then quietly put him in his crate.  The slightest noise/movement wakes them up.

Sleeping on the couch (8 weeks old).  This is how to develop a bond.

At 9 weeks he was starting to feel more comfortable in our home and understanding that this was his new home and I am his person.  He would sit in my lap for longer periods of time and chew on his toys while sitting there.  He also started testing boundaries more outside.  Whereas at 8 weeks he would follow me EVERYWHERE, now he was starting to explore on his own (which made me feel he was running away because he didn't like me! Luckily it's not true :).  I still didn't feel that we were in a groove yet at this age; didn't feel like we were totally bonded. I was still learning so much, and so was he. I still couldn't quite gauge his personality yet either. The picture below marks one of the first times I started to feel we had a bond.  He was lounging on my leg and he just wanted to be near for more than protection, it was just to hang out.  He stayed long enough to get this pic....which is saying a lot actually! Lol!

Lounging on my leg after a walk and some playing (9 weeks).
At 10-11 weeks we started to get closer and get more comfortable.  I felt I was starting to learn his signs he hungry, tired, needing to be pet? I felt I could tell now.  He definitely seemed to enjoy leaning on us, bringing his toy to my feet and flopping down to chew.  He was comfortable in his new environment, sleeping on the floor totally relaxed and not feeling the need to constantly sniff and explore.

By 12 weeks (which is right now as I'm writing this) I feel totally bonded to him and him to me.  He comes when called, he sits in my lap very relaxed (though not always, he still wants to jump and lick of course!), he comes to me happily, follows me around the kitchen, but can also sit on his bed while I'm busy cooking.  I feel I understand him and he is totally comfortable at our house.  I can just grab him up and kiss him and set him back feels natural, we're in a flow now.  It is awesome, but man it sure did take a lot of time to get here! A lot of patience too.  

Sitting in my lap on our sunrise morning hike (12 wks old).
Here is Indie laying on the floor playing with my partner.  We would not have been able to do this in such a relaxed way at 8 weeks old.  He was still too wary, still unsure. But not, we just flop and hang out.

Another way I know how bonded we are now: when I left him in the car with me partner (who lives with me) he was still whining and wimpering when I went to Petco for 10 minutes to get his dog tags made!  Here he is anxiously waiting my return:

The lesson here is:
It takes time for love to grow! Don't rush; be patient; be understanding; let it happen naturally! 

No comments:

Post a Comment