You would think that a dog’s favorite person would be whoever gives them the most food and attention, right? While that is often the case, it’s not always that simple.
Maybe you have a friend or family member that your dog loves so much they would knock you over to get to them. Why is that? It turns out that there are several factors that can influence your dog’s decision about who their favorite person is. Here are a few of them.
1. Who they socialize with early is a big factor
For dogs, their key socialization period is from birth to six months. Puppy brains are very receptive at this age, so the social experiences they have as puppies influence them for the rest of their lives. It’s important for puppies to have a wide variety of positive interactions with a wide variety of people, places, and things.
If, for example, you adopted your dog at an older age and they were raised by a single female for the first six months of their lives, they may be much more comfortable around women and may have a difficult time bonding with men since they weren’t introduced to them at a young enough age. That could influence who they bond with as an adult.
It’s never too late to start socializing your dog. The more experiences they have and the more people they meet, the easier it should be for them to warm up to others in the future.
2. Attention and affection improve bonds
You might be the one to walk and feed the dog, but if your partner gives the dog more time, attention, and affection than you, they may favor that person. While the amount of attention and affection you give your dog makes a difference, the quality of attention may be the deciding factor. A half hour walk, for example, is not the same to your dog as a half hour interactive play session with you.
3. Positive associations are huge
Why do we give treats to our dogs when we’re training them? It’s so they develop a positive association with following commands. Obey the command, get a treat. Any time they enjoy something, they will form a positive association with the person who gave them the thing or experience that they enjoyed. Your dog’s favorite person might just offer something nobody else does or can.
How to become your dog’s favorite
If you believe you aren’t your dog’s favorite person, but you would like to be, there are some things you can do to improve your bond with them. The best thing to do is spend at least 30 minutes of focused, one-on-one time with your dog every day. This time should be spent doing something active such as playing fetch or tug, having a training session, or trying a new sport such as agility or flyball where you and your dog can work together as a team.