Predicting how long it takes for dogs to bond to their new owners isn't easy. All dogs are different. Older dogs may take longer to attach to new ownership than puppies. Some dogs may simply possess meeker temperaments. But one thing is certain: they're worth the effort.
If your new dog happens to be a puppy, bonding to him may seem fluid and easy, especially if he's around 2 months old. At this tender age, puppies are generally fully prepared to leave behind the comforts of their siblings and mothers, but also can readily accept people as companions and "pack leaders," too. In the case of young puppies, you may have a strong bond before you know it.
Adult canines may take longer to attach to their new owners, especially if they've suffered through traumatic pasts -- think physical abuse or abandonment, for example. Though a puppy may connect to you the minute he associates you with mealtime, some dogs may require a month -- or even longer than that -- to establish that connection. Also, realize that some adult dogs may be able to bond with their owners almost instantly. All dogs have differing temperaments and stories, so it's always a case-by-case situation. Aside from bonding in general, it often takes dogs between two days and two months to get used to the presence of their owners in general.
Fostering a Bond
Dogs generally bond to their owners as soon as they've had time to begin trusting. However, that doesn't mean that you cannot do all that you can along the way to nurture the connection -- and perhaps even help the process along a little bit. The key to bonding with your dog is simple: spend a lot of time together, whether you take him outdoors for walks around the local park, play fetch with him or pet his back routinely. Another way to work on a bond with your dog is by teaching him to think of you in a positive light. If your dog thinks of you and also thinks of tasty treats at the same time, it may be a strong foundation on which to build the relationship. In the case of particularly apprehensive and nervous dogs, regular hand-feeding may go a long way.
When it comes to bonding with your new doggie, keep things as organic as possible. You don't want to rush the whole thing. Do not be forceful. Take your time and don't get discouraged if you don't notice automatic results. Once you do have your pooch's trust and love, the rewards are immeasurable and you won't even remember the days, weeks or months of uncertainty.
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- Partnership for Animal Welfare: Bringing Your New Dog Home
- Camden County Animal Shelter: CCAS Dog Adoption Information Packet
- The Humane Society of the United States: Bringing Your New Dog Home
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