Bonding With Older Dogs

He loves me, he loves me not

Nemo is the first dog I have ever taken on as an older dog. Before Nemo came to live with me I remember worrying that we may not get along, he may try to run away and find his previous carers, and that he may simply not ‘fit in’ with our family. The first time I layed eyes on Nemo he was on my front door step with a trainer from SEDA so these concerns were very real. These first few months have been hard work but just recently, I have noticed changes in my relationship with Nemo, our bond is growing.

Sometimes a dog comes along that you love and bond with immediately, you feel the love straight away, and this dog seems to know exactly what you want and how to fit in with your life from the beginning. Yes, it can happen. However, the more probable start will be your new dog seems to like you, but as soon as you take them for a walk they pay no attention to you. The first off lead walk I took Nemo on I had to wait for the other dogs to exit the park before he would acknowledge my existence.

There are things you can do to ensure you develop a strong bond with your new dog.

Firstly, play with your dog, choose games that make you both smile. These games should be interactive with you. They can include chase and tug, but the best games are the ones you and your dog invent yourselves.

Being the main food provider will also help build a bond. Eliminate the food bowl and feed your dog their daily allowance of food for any good behaviour you see, this will help you notice how good they can be throughout the day. The food bowl should not come out again until you have an established bond. Some trainers call this method NILF- Nothing In Life is Free.

Train your dog, find a good dog trainer to help you with this. Concentrate on a few basic skills that you feel you need with your new dog. These could be skills that you already want or ones that you have seen other dogs perform.

Finally, spend some quiet time together each day. This is best done at a time when your dog is settling down for the night. Spend some time stroking, massaging and sweet talking your dog, often people concede that this is more important for us (as humans) than it is for the dogs. However, I have seen many dogs request to be patted in certain ways that makes me think they love it too.


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