Occasionally a client will mention that their dog pays attention to one family member more than another. The comments usually pertain to the fact that their dog gives one person more affection, follows the person around the house or listens better to training cues.
If you are feeling like the neglected person in your household, here are some easy ways to help win the affections of your pooch.
- Feed your dog. The way to a dog's heart is often through his stomach. This was very apparent recently when I was recovering from surgery. My Sheltie that normally watches my every move started to pay much more attention to my wife whom took over all feeding duties during my recovery.
- Walk your dog. Especially if your dog primarily gets potty breaks in the back yard this can really make a difference. If you take over at least some of the responsibilities and spend some quality time with your dog, that can make a big difference in his level of attention towards you.
- Training. Training helps increase the enjoyment associated with a person and increases communication between a person and their dog.
- Skilled training. It is one thing to practice training, it is another to do it correctly. Dogs can start to ignore people very quickly if they repeat cues or are inconsistent with their messages. If you are a novice, have someone that knows what they are doing watch you while you are training.
- Grooming. Assuming your dog doesn't hate grooming, spending some quality (fear and pain free) time brushing your dog's fur or teeth can increase the bond.
- Massage. There is a lot of information out there about doggy massage helping geriatric dogs with arthritis, but most dogs love a skilled massage from their favorite person. Take a class or read a book about massage.
- Take a class with your dog. Whether you attend a basic or advanced dog training class or a specialty class like agility or flyball, the quality time together can make a big difference.
- Only use positive reinforcement. Any bond can quickly erode by using physical methods including choke chains, prong collars or shock collars in training. Learn how to teach, not to scare your dog.