You adopted your dog to be the heart of your family…
But what happens when they don’t seem to love everyone?
It’s not unusual for dogs to have favourite humans. But it can put a big strain on your relationship if it feels like your dog hates your spouse or someone else in your family.
If your dog ignores, barks at, or just doesn’t get along with someone, it’s typically just because they need more time to bond. With a little extra work, your spouse can become another one of your dog’s best friends. Remember, dogs always have the capacity for more love.
Do You Have The Right Expectations?
It can take up to a year, or more, after adoption for your dog to fully bond with family members. Those bonds will continue to evolve for the rest of the dog’s life.
So it’s not abnormal for a new dog to take a while to warm up to everyone.
Your family might also have unrealistic expectations about training.
Similarly, it can take up to a year to get a handle on certain behavioural issues. Your dog might not be fully potty trained, or they might destroy personal belongings. Sometimes, you’ll need to remind your family members to not take these incidences personally.
If you’re having trouble managing behavioural issues, seek professional, force-free training. It’s the best way to build relationships based on trust and communication. If your family member attempts to control the dog’s behaviour using fear-based punishments, it can put a strain on their relationship.
Remember to be patient with your human family members too. They may just be learning how to communicate with a dog, while you may have grown up with dogs your whole life. Talk to your family about any frustrations they might be experiencing when it comes to dog ownership, and help them see those issues in new ways.
Why Do Some Dogs Bond With One Person?
Some dog breeds, like Retrievers, are known to love everyone.
Others are notorious one-person dogs.
Chihuahuas, Chow Chows, Akitas, Beagles and German Shepherds are known to be loyal to just a few people, or even just one person.
Even these dogs, however, can bond with multiple people. As with humans, their relationships are always unique. For example, if one person always gives them table scraps at dinner, that’s who they’ll always badger and beg. They may consistently cuddle with whomever spends the most time on the couch, and may seek meals from whomever normally feeds them.
If your spouse or other family member wants to form a stronger bond with your dog, you should allow them to feed the dog all of their meals. If that person isn’t good at measuring or remembering mealtimes, you can use small containers and a timer to keep them on track.
Training is another powerful way to establish a bond.
There’s no need to bend rules or bribe the dog for their love. Dogs need boundaries and structure to feel secure. Remind your spouse that feeding table scraps will not earn the dog’s love, but using bites of yummy, healthy treats as training rewards will.
What If My Dog Is Aggressive Towards My Family Member?
If your dog growls or snaps at your family member, the issue may be too serious to handle on your own. These issues can escalate, especially if that family member may retaliate by shouting or yelling.
Your human family member’s safety comes first. If your dog tries to bite them when they come near the bed, for example, you’ll need to crate your dog at night. If they become aggressive over food, you may need to feed them outside.
Be prepared to work with a professional trainer or behaviourist. If your family member does not feel safe in their own home, you have no choice but to either rehabilitate your dog or to rehome them.
Most behavioural issues are fixable. Dogs do not dominate people, nor do they hold grudges. They can learn to bond with anyone in their life, so long that they feel safe and are treated with kindness and patience.