This article is shared with permission from our friends at Rover.

Congrats on the latest addition to your family! You guys will be BFFs in no time flat, but first, a little ice breaking is in order.

Bonding with your dog early on is fundamental to building a healthy relationship between your buddy and the world around him. Generally, this process is fast with puppies, but can take a little longer with older dogs. Read on for eight pointers on how to bond with your new furry sidekick.

Establish Trust


We know it’s hard not to want to smother a puppy with cuddles and kisses, but it’s important to allow your new buddy a little independence. Give him the opportunity to explore his surroundings safely and allow him to discover his new roommates on his own terms. Socializing your pup early on will make for a well adjusted and sociable adult dog.

Embrace the Learning Curve

Your new dog (especially if you’re getting one as a puppy) has a lot to learn. Not only does he have a new family, but a new home as well. Always be patient and be sure to let your dog know when he’s being good—like anytime he pees outside rather than inside or comes when you call his name.

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Learn to Read Your Dog


Here’s a handy guide courtesy of ASPCA. If you have small children, here’s another helpful post on making an introduction. From excited to scared and playful, it’s important to be attuned to your dog’s feelings and his reactions to his new environment.

Put On Your Walking Shoes

Allow your buddy the chance to acclimate to the neighborhood, which is a surefire way for him to get more comfortable with everything. The one-on-one time strolling the neighborhood is a great way to bond and get some exercise together.

Communication Is Key

This means training. Gaining your dog’s respect is important in the early stages and rewards are an integral part of this. Start with easy tricks like sit and work your way up. Throwing in a bit of this training on your walks together is a great way to incorporate these two steps.

Play Together!



Interactive games like tug of war are great for bonding. As the Whole Dog Journal explains: “‘Leader’ is defined as the one who controls the good stuff. By playing tug and granting your dog access to the tug toy, you remind him that the toy belongs to you, the higher-ranking member of the social hierarchy, and out of the goodness of your benevolent-leader heart, you let him play with it sometimes.” So there you have it!

It’s All About the Simple Things

This one’s a freebie. Acts like feeding your dog and giving him treats and cuddling shows him that you love him. Easy peezy! Cesar’s Way recommends that you have your dog work for his dinner by performing a command like sit or lay down just before eating, so he sees dinner as a sort of reward for good behavior.

Give It Time

Easy come, easy go, right? The more time you spend together, the more comfortable your new buddy will be around you. If this means just hanging out on the couch, going on a car ride together, or taking a stroll around the neighborhood, it all counts—your buddy will just be thrilled to be around you.


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Health Expert
Founded in 2011 and based in Seattle, WA, Rover is the nation's largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.