The bond you have with your puppy or kitten begins the moment they come home with you, and continues to grow throughout their lifetime. Ways to strengthen this bond include affection, training, grooming, playing, exercising and participating in a variety of activities with your new puppy or kitten. What you do in the early stages of your union sets the proper foundation for a solid, lasting connection; a connection that will benefit both of you in more ways than you can imagine.
Bonding with a new puppy
The first week or ten days of a puppy’s life consists of nursing, sleeping and not much else. During that time, the puppy’s mother is his source for everything. If he gets separated from his mother, she finds him and leads or carries him back to the litter. If he gets hungry, she feeds him. If he cries, she comforts him. The bond between a puppy and his mother is the first and most important relationship of his little life.
Once the pup’s eyes and ears open, he begins to notice things beyond just his mother. As the puppy ages and is able to fend for himself, his relationship with his mother becomes less dependent—more like a friendship. When the pup is between three and six weeks old, he begins to develop relationships with his littermates and learns basic social skills from their interactions.
According to noted veterinary behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a puppy’s distrust of unfamiliar people starts developing at around eight to ten weeks of life. At this time, it’s essential that the puppy is introduced to others.
At about eight weeks of age, most puppies are available for adoption, and that’s when a puppy’s new human enters the picture. Early separation anxiety is almost unavoidable at the beginning of the relationship, because the puppy misses his mom and littermates. It’s at this time that you must become ‘everything’ to your new puppy—so if he whimpers or whines, you tend to him.
If you’ve ever heard or read that you’re supposed to let your puppy cry through the night, ignore that advice. That’s incorrect. You are now substituting for the puppy’s mother, and mama dog doesn’t ignore her babies. By meeting the puppy’s demands you will keep him on the right track for appropriate social development. Additionally, the puppy will gradually re-attach to you, his new provider. This is when your connection begins to really take shape.