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How to Make a Dog Love You

If your dog seems scared or hesitant around you, focus on improving your relationship. Ensure that the dog has a secure environment by making a safe, comfortable place for it in your home. Give your dog structure by training it and offering positive rewards. Once your dog feels cared for, it will bond with you easier. Take your dog for walks, play with it, and just let it be your companion. Over time, the dog will love your interactions.

Bonding with the Dog

1. Show the dog affection. You don't need to set aside designated play time or bonding time every day. Instead, be in the habit of just giving the dog pats, rubs, or gentle scratches throughout the day. Regular physical contact will let your dog know that you love it and care for it.

  • You'll probably be able to tell that your dog loves these little interactions. For example, the dog might stick its tongue out or look at you affectionately if you rub its ears.
  • Note: Dogs dislike having their face petted or their head patted. You should also avoid giving your dog big hugs, since this can make them uncomfortable.

2. Learn what your dog loves to do. Once you know what it is that drives your dog, you can be more responsive to its needs, which will make it like you better. Letting the dog do what it enjoys to do will also improve its self-esteem.

  • For example, if your dog loves playing fetch or digging, throw a ball around every day or create an approved space for your dog to dig (such as a doggie sandbox).

3. Give your dog toys. You should be in the habit of playing with your dog regularly. If you're tired of playing your usual game of fetch, buy fun new toys. Always choose toys that are an appropriate size. If the toys are too small or have small parts that could come off, your dog may choke on them. If the toys are too large, your dog might have trouble playing with them.

  • Regularly inspect the toys for rips, tears, or loose threads that could cause choking hazards.

4. Take the dog for frequent walks. Dogs enjoy being able to stretch their legs, explore their environment, and be with you. Walk your dog two to three times a day in order to bond and get some great exercise. If your dog really enjoys walking, consider taking it on longer walks or hikes as a special treat. Give your dog the chance to explore when you walk.

  • If your dog would rather play at the dog park or run around, you can walk it to a dog park and let it play instead.

5. Keep your dog near you. Dogs enjoy spending time near their owners, so let your dog be your companion. Give your dog attention throughout the day and let it follow you around. Being around you will make your dog feel secure and content.

  • If dogs don't get enough companionship or attention, they can become lonely and start acting out.

6. Bring your dog on trips. Part of being your companion means going with you when you travel. Take your dog out to experience new places, people, or other dogs. Choose places that are dog-friendly like the beach, lake, dog parks, forests, or dog shows. Your dog will love seeing new things with you.

  • Consider laying a sheet down in your car to make your dog comfortable and keep your seats clean.

Providing a Healthy Environment

1. Create a comfortable space for the dog. Most dogs love sleeping in bed with their owners. Decide if you'd like to let the dog sleep in bed with you or if you want it to have its own cozy space. To make a space that your dog will love, set out a dog bed with blankets and chew toys in a corner of a living room. This area will give your dog a chance to have its own private space while still being part of the household action.

Tip: If your dog is in its space, ensure that other pets or kids aren't bothering the dog. The dog should feel like it can safely relax.

2. Groom and feed your dog. Many dogs naturally love the people who feed and care for them. Give your dog nutritious meals every day and use that time to interact with the dog. You can hand feed your dog every once in a while or hide food in treat puzzles. You should also be in the habit of grooming your dog and checking its coat for health concerns.

  • Look for skin irritation that could be bothering your pet. For example, if you find fleas, talk with the vet about the best treatments that will give your dog quick relief from the itching.

3. Practice positive reinforcement training. Your relationship will improve if your dog knows how to respond to basic commands (such as sit, stay, come, and heel). Consider clicker training, which reinforces good behavior through positive associations (such as the clicking sound). Give your dog food treats or verbal praise when it follows your commands.

  • For example, give your dog a nutritious doggy treat if it follows your command to stop. Or, tell your dog, "Good job!" if it comes back to you when you call it at the dog park.

4. Avoid punishing the dog when it misbehaves. If you use positive training, you won't need to punish your dog when it misbehaves. Just redirect the dog and reward it as soon as you see the dog behave correctly. Never yell at, hit, or frighten your dog. Reacting in anger will make the dog fear you and can damage your relationship.

  • Be patient with the dog. Some dogs will take longer to respond to training than others.

5. Socialize your dog. It's easy to forget about your dog's relationship with other dogs or people if you're trying to get it to love you. Keep in mind that your dog will be happier and more fulfilled if it's coming into contact with other dogs or people. Try to let your dog socialize with others in a calm, structured environment instead of in a chaotic place where the dog might feel overwhelmed.

  • For example, instead of just letting the dog run around the dog park, you might visit a friend that has a calm dog. Give the dogs the chance to interact, but don't force them.

6. Keep your dog healthy. It's difficult for a pet to feel loving if its basic health needs aren't being met. Take your dog for regular check-ups at the veterinarian's and keep it current on vaccinations. If your dog injures itself or becomes ill, get it proper medical care and treatment.