Dog lovers around the world were so upset when recent behavioral research revealed that hugging distresses dogs, rather than letting them feel loved. While we hug our dogs to show affection, we don’t realize that the gesture can sometimes make them feel vulnerable. So what can you do to let your dog feel loved?
1) Learn to Pet Them Properly
Petting a golden retriever. (Source)
Not all dogs hate hugs, especially if it’s from someone they completely trust. To make sure yours is among the few that’s okay with it, watch for signs of distress when you hug them.
If they apparently don’t like it, don’t worry! A better alternative is to scratch them behind their ears or massage their belly. When stimulated, these nerve centers help them relax.
2) Take Them Out for Regular Walks
Walking a young Border Collie. (Source)
Regular walks are essential to keep your dog healthy and make sure they don't develop destructive behaviors. But more than that, daily walks could be an excellent way to bond with them.
3) Make Time for Play
A Labrador Retriever playing tug. (Source)
Playtime doesn't always have to involve trips to the park. It doesn't even have to be outdoors at all. While outdoor activities are incredibly fun, playing with your dog can be just as fun at home.
4) Always Praise Good Behavior
A woman rewards her Labrador Retriever for good behavior. (Source)
Rather than scolding them when they do something wrong, make it a point to praise them for any good behavior.
It could be as simple as lying down in the right place. Or, it could be huge like leaving freshly baked cookies alone. No matter what, letting them know when they’re a good pup reinforces good behaviors.
When you start, toss them a piece of their favorite dog-safe treats as you praise them. Eventually, verbal cues will be enough to let them know you’re happy with their behavior. Knowing that makes them happy as well.
5) Talk to Them
A woman baby-talking with a white puppy. (Source)
A recent study led by researchers from the UK's University of York revealed that dogs favor people who use “dog-directed speech". In other words, those who speak to dogs in baby talk.
So apart from literally telling your dog you love them and that they’re a good pup, do so in a high-pitched manner. Also, exaggerate the emotion as much as you can. Science shows that doing so helps you improve your bond with them.
These are all great ways to make sure your dog understands that they’re loved. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is that you be yourself!
Your genuine love for your pup will give you the right instincts to care for them in the best way. They’ll be able to sense your affection and show their love in return.