Dogs are some of the most social and loyal animals, and they form some of the strongest and most powerful bonds with their owners. While dogs may wag their tails and lick your face for some extra treats, have you ever wondered how dogs choose their favourite person? How do you know if you are your dog’s favourite person? Why do dogs prefer one person over another? Or even maybe dogs change their favourite person along the way?
Here we’ll dive into the science of how dogs interact with their owners, if breeding has something to do with it and how you can get your dog to like you. So, let’s find out all about it!
Does socialisation affect a dog’s preferences?
You might have noticed that puppies tend to have a similar behaviour to babies, in the sense that they have no fears. They are bold, confident and eager to explore the world (or their backyard at first). However, just like humans, this attitude doesn’t last forever!
Puppies grow suspicious of the world and others the older they get. Meaning that you have a short window to introduce our world to your puppy and make him/her feel quickly comfortable. This is what we call socialisation. The key period to socialise them, also the period when dogs bond the hardest for their parents, occurs between birth and six months.
When they are puppies, their brains are very receptive and social experiences will greatly affect them for the rest of their life. Thus, playing a major role in how dogs choose their favourite person! That is why it’s important that your puppy has a lot of positive interactions with various people, places, smells, things and other animals.
Sadly, puppies don’t always get the needed exposure to different surroundings and people. Consequently, they grow up to be wary of the unknown, making them more aggressive, less confident or act strangely. For example, dogs who haven’t been exposed to people that wear glasses, may grow wary of them and be less inclined to choose them as their favourite person.
In my case, I didn’t get Jaeger until he was 8 years old. Thus, I didn’t know how sociable he was at first. Yet, I noticed that he clearly preferred women to men. Making me believe that he had better positive experiences and communication with female caretakers.
Hence, what I can say with certainty is that if you adopted an older dog, you certainly wonder if dogs can change their favourite person. Yet, don’t worry! With the right attitude, you can still become their treasured one. Surely, experiences do make a difference, however it’s important to remember that socialisation is a continuous process.
How does affection and attention influence a dog’s choice ?
Certainly, socialisation is a major factor on how dogs choose their favourite person. However, as foretold, regardless of their age, gender or breed a perfect companionship can be attained. My own dog prefers someone who wasn’t his primary caregiver.
Since I can say for a fact that he is madly in love with me. Indeed, dogs lean on the person who pays most attention to them, like anyone would. For example, in a family with kids, the dog will pay closer attention to the one who fills their bowl everyday, plays constantly with him/her and takes him/her on walks!
For dogs that have been adopted, specially rescued, adopted or bought in an animal shelter, the one who gives him/her the most supportive environment will be favoured. Indeed, at first dogs can seem to be afraid of you.
However, if you are fair to your dog, sleep with him, and spend the majority of your time together, it will indeed have a great impact on them! Since dogs can change their favourite person after all.
Simultaneously, physical affection also solidifies the bond between a pet parent and their dog. Offering them treats, massages, tummy rubs, grooming sessions but mainly love, they will likely seek out more. Indeed, positive association is the key for their heart. Chemistry and togetherness are two sides of the same coin, so be sure to pay attention to your partner’s natural body language! Yet, keep in mind that for some dogs, it isn’t a matter of quantity and amount of affection, but rather, the quality.
For instance, you must have heard someone talking to their dog as if they were human? Well, this is a way of cultivating stronger bonds since dogs are smart creatures. They can tell from your tone of voice whether you are happy or sad, friend or foe. They are also masters in reading your body language. Hugs turn into love and massages means a lot of drooling dog kisses!
Dog breed and human personality: does it play a part?
You might have met a dog then looked at the owner and thought to yourself: they kind of look alike. Right? Well that is because “like attracts like” can also be applied to dogs and their pet parents! Dogs usually choose their favourite person depending on their own personality and energy level.
Throughout the years I found out that dogs with cautious, reserved but cuddling personalities bond easily with me, just like Jaeger did. Meanwhile, outgoing, bubbly and active dogs tend to be more attached to my energetic boyfriend.
Moreover, you also have to take into account that there are some very independent breeds that tend to prefer single persons! Thus, they’ll most likely have their favourite person be their one and only person. Breeds that are prone to become strongly attached to one person include:
- Shiba Inu
- Cairn Terrier
It is important that dogs feel comfortable with their surroundings and your actions and overall demeanour. Above all, you mustn’t underestimate your dog’s ability to sense a negative feeling! They are very sensible to this and they’ll grow wary of you.
It is important to have a continuous positive attitude such as praising him/her. Playing with them regularly is a must if you want to build a solid relationship. It’s the best way of improving your bond and mutual trust. Certainly don’t yell or physically discipline him/her!
Dogs have enough places in their hearts to have more than one and only favourite person throughout their life. Thus, dogs can change their favourite person through many experiences. Just remember to cherish him/her wholeheartedly! Treat them with respect and meet their needs and they will be loyal life companions assuredly.