Do dogs really choose "their" person? How?

Jun 26, 2022

A question that I've wanted to have an answer to "Am I my dog’s favorite person?"... Have you ever asked this yourself too? Most probably yes, right? Who would not wish to be the best buddy to your best buddy...

We will share now with you the details on how dogs choose their favorite people and if you can change their mind about it.

Long story short - it is all about socialization, your attention, motivation and your dog's and yours personality.

You have probably experienced a situation when your dog gets excited when he sees somebody who is your friend, or your family's members etc. But, sometimes the behavior is just unreal - the dog is jumping up and down, wagging his tail and pulling you right to that person like there is no tomorrow. It is not even a competition. The dog will always choose that person over you even though you are the dog's caregiver - feeding him, walking him, training him, playing with him etc. It is funny and mystifying at the same time.

So how do dogs choose their favorite person? Is it the person they lick the most or the one giving them a lot of treats? Or, is there something else they do that I don't do? 

Of course, every dog is different, but we can see some generalized hints in this behavior. Read on to learn all about how dogs choose their favorite person:

Socialization matters

The key socialization period occurs within the first 6 months of dog’s life. During this time dogs bond the most to people who care for them. The puppies brains are incredibly receptive and all they experience in this early age can influence them for the rest of their lives. That’s why we should make sure the puppy has positive interactions with a wide range of people, places, and things.

If you have adopted an older dog, don’t worry, you can still become his favorite. Just continue to socialize him with unlimited experiences like dog sitting, doggy day care, play dates and your daily walks together. It all still matters!

Attention (and affection) increases the bond

Usually dogs prefer people who give them the most attention. Even within your family and friends. If there is someone always petting your dog and bringing yummy treats, it is a sure thing your dog is going to love this person. 

For some dogs, it’s not just the amount of attention and affection that matter, but the quality too. Dogs can remember us feeding them, but whenever the good auntie from next door shows up, they know she will let them sleep on her bed again and that they can play rough with her, and when you go on walk around her doors, the dogs will always look if she’s there.

Positive association is key

Beyond the attention of their favorite people, dogs play favorites depending on associations. In other words, when a person is the source of good stuff, the dog forms a bond. On the other side, dogs often don’t like people they have had bad experiences with ( e.g. you’ll never catch any dog making friends with a vet). It would be interesting to try if the dog can change his mind about the vet if the vet would give him treats before, while and after examination.

It makes a perfect sense, isn’t it?

Wherever you go, there they are

Can you say your dog makes a great shadow of yours? Do you find your dog behind the doors when you go to the bathroom, or when you trying to have a quiet minute alone? If so, there is quiet a big chance your dog has you on the list of favorite people.

Human personality and dog breed play a part

You can truly believe that saying “like attracts like” is valid and applies to dogs and people, too. People often choose the dog breed and the dog’s personality regarding to their own energy level and personality.

In addition, some dog breeds are more likely to bond with a single person, making it more likely that their favorite person will be their only person. Breeds that tend to bond strongly to one person include:

  • Basenji, Greyhound, Shiba Inu, Cairn Terrier

How to become your dog’s favorite

If you feel like you’re not your dog’s favorite person, don’t be sad and don’t give up! You can work on the bond between you two. The easiest (and most fun) way is to spend at least 30 minutes of focused, one-on-one time together each day. This doesn’t include walks, yard time, or watching TV together. Your bonding time should be active and focused.

Here are a few bonding activities to engage in with your dog:

  • Play together - play a game of fetch, tug, or frisbee.

  • Train together - working on new skills, or reinforcing old ones, is a great way to bond!

  • Get active together - something like agility, dock diving, or taking your dog to dog gym where you and your dog can work together as a team is a time well spent 

  • Eat - good food (in healthy, appropriate quantities) is love. Aim for wholesome protein sources with limited fillers, or cook a meal for your dog. Make mealtime a bonding activity by integrating eye contact.

  • Give your dog a grooming session or massage.

Bonding occurs naturally between dogs and the people who treat them well. Take good care of your dog, socialize him, give him positive experiences, and respect his unique personality. He’ll reward you with a lifetime furever love!

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