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How Do Puppies Choose Their Favorite Person?

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Doodles and other similar people-oriented breeds tend to bond with all members of the household. It is generally quite easy to win their affection — a simple belly rub will often do the trick. However, while they show affection toward all members of the household, most dogs will still have their favorite person.

They may greet this person first and longest when the whole family comes home and they may gravitate towards snuggling with a person on the couch or choose to sleep in their room at night.

It’s typically no secret mystery as to why a dog chooses their favorite person. Most of the time, this person is the person who spends the most quality time with the dog. Not all time is created equal in your dog’s mind. Some activities tend to accelerate bonding more than others. A huge one for dogs is walking!

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One Way Puppies Chose Their Favorite Person is by Who Walks Them

If you observe a pack of wolves in the wild, you will notice how often they are “on-the-go” together. The pack covers vast distances in search of their next meal, up to 12 miles in a single day. Related to their wild cousins, domestic dogs also tend to thrive when they get daily exercise and walks! Walking with your dog helps unite the pack as both of you are on the same mission: to enjoy and explore the great outdoors.

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Two humans may bond by sitting down and having a conversation over a cup of coffee, but since your puppy can’t speak or have abstract, emotional conversations, he tends to be more oriented to the physical and live in the present moment. When you and your puppy are in sync during a walk, this is really akin to a deep conversation with a friend.

The ideal bonding walk with your puppy means that you are also engaged and present during the walk. If you are rushing through the walk or distracted by talking on the phone, etc. your bonding time will not be as effective. Dogs, especially doodles, are incredibly intuitive and in touch to human emotions.

If you are present and simply enjoying the walk with your dog, he will be able to sense that and relax with you. If you are stressed, in a rush, or would simply rather not be having to walk your dog, your dog will sense this, too, and it will likely stifle the bonding between you two.

As with two humans, mutual enjoyment of the same hobby or activity fosters bonding. The same with you and your dog — if you are genuinely enjoying a walk (or other time spent) with your puppy, he will reciprocate by feeling closer to you.

Constant tension on the leash can be a sign that you and your dog are not in sync. Training is of course one aspect to getting your dog to heel and behave appropriately on the leash. But when it comes to bonding, it is also important to be present and pay attention to why your dog may be pausing to sniff or straining ahead.

This helps you be in tune to your dog and understand his reactions to things and also be able to redirect him the moment he focuses on something that you would rather him not (such as the neighbor’s cat!).

The ideal bonding walk for your dog involves you being present in the moment as well as allowing time to slow down and sniff on occasion. We of course recommend training and teaching your dog to walk appropriately on the leash so that you can actually accomplish walking from point A to point B, but we also strongly recommend giving your dog some freedom on the walk to “slow down and smell the roses.”

While all dogs love to sniff, puppies in particular are trying to learn about the big wide world and are extra driven to explore their environment. You may be surprised at all the tiny details your dog seems to notice as he explores and sniffs!

We have addressed the pack walk at length as it is such a significant bonding process for you and your puppy! But it is not the only way to bond with your puppy. Play time, feeding, and greeting times are also very important when it comes to becoming your puppy’s favorite person.

Play Time Also Impacts Who a Puppies Favorite Person Is

As mentioned previously, really any time spent with your dog is good for bonding. Belly rubs, training exercises, or simply sleeping in the same room are all good ways to become your dog’s favorite person. But puppies typically have one thing at the forefront of their minds: Play! All young animals (including humans) have one aim in life — to figure out the world. Puppies do this by playing. Their play teaches them the social skills they need to appropriately interact with humans and other dogs as they grow up. So, while walks/exercise, and structured training sessions certainly have their place in a puppy’s day, good old fashioned play is a big key to a happy pup!

Carving out time just to relax and play with your pup each day is incredibly important for his social development. Owners can sometimes be frustrated by the puppy stage as it often feels like two steps forward, one step back when it comes to training. If you aren’t careful, you can get to the end of the day with your pup and realize the day was full of nothing but corrections for the little guy.

Training certainly has its place in the daily life of a puppy, but sometimes it’s good to give your pup a chance to just have fun and be a puppy! If you are struggling with ideas of how to engage your pup in play, we have some various games to try! Fetch and tug of war are obvious staples in the dog play world, but there are some other creative options, too. One fun game is various hide-and-go-seek games to engage your pup. You can hide treats around the house as well as hiding yourself and rewarding your pup with praise or treats when he finds you.

Blowing bubbles can be another fun activity for your pup. Many pups are naturally attracted to trying to catch the bubbles, and it can be a fun game that releases lots of energy. If your dog does not seem to get the hang of it, you can try flavored bubbles for added incentive! No matter what game you choose, just focus on being present and really enjoying the time with your puppy.

There is nothing quite like engaging in mutual fun to encourage your puppy to pick you as his official favorite person!

Food, Treats, & Training

Another not so well-kept secret is that puppies LOVE snacks! Giving your pup treats is one surefire way to bond with him. If you want to increase the level of bonding, increase the intentionality behind giving your pup food.

Sure, you can simply set a bowl of food on the floor twice a day and your puppy will certainly be pleased, but you can really enhance the bonding process by feeding your puppy in increments throughout the day by rewarding him with treats/kibble for his positive behavior.

It is perfectly okay to feed your puppy smaller meals and then use the rest of his kibble as treats throughout the day to keep him motivated and continually reinforcing that you are the giver of all good things! Training with treats is dual purpose.

Not only does the giving of treats make you more likely to be your puppy’s favorite person, but the act of following commands that you give him will ensure that he sees you as his pack leader — someone that he can trust for safety and direction. This will again strengthen the bond between you two.

Warm Greetings Impact Who a Puppy Chooses

One of the things that any dog owner looks forward to is coming home at the end of a long day of work only to be greeted by the world’s happiest welcome party at the front door! As social pack animals, dogs are really keen on the greeting process. Whether you have been gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours, your puppy will be absolutely delighted to see you again.

Sometimes you may be in a rush to go onto the next activity and not have time for an elaborate greeting party. But if you can take a minute or two to really engage your dog in this greeting process, it will solidify the bond between you two. Of course, there are ways to ensure your dog doesn’t go overboard with greetings.

It is perfectly appropriate to teach your dog that jumping and/or mouthing are not okay, even if they are excited. But your dog will be more likely to respect these boundaries if you engage him upon greeting. Getting down on your dog’s level and really giving him the affection he is craving upon your arrival home will not only help lessen some of the negative greeting behaviors like jumping, but will also help strengthen the bond between you and your pup.

A Puppy Also Picks Their Favorite Human by Emotional Connection & Other Intangible Qualities

Finally, how much you love your dog is a key ingredient when it comes to being his/her favorite person. Science backs up the process of bonding with your dog. A recent study showed that humans and dogs reciprocally release oxytocin when engaging in affectionate behavior with one another. Oxytocin is often called the “love hormone” as it is the same hormone released in other intimate activities such as mothers caring for their babies.

Dogs release oxytocin simply by looking at a smiling human face. In other words, they sense your emotions and love and respond in kind. So no matter what the activity — walking, playing, feeding, or greeting, your dog can sense your enthusiasm and genuine love, or lack thereof. So get down on your dog’s level, try to understand how your puppy’s brain and development works, and overall just seek to simply enjoy him!

If you are simply watching your puppy bumble around in the yard and awkwardly try to catch a tennis ball, he will glance up at your smile and even such a simple moment as this will continue forge the bond between both of you!

On a similar note, not only can your dog sense whether or not you are genuinely being affectionate with them, but there are other intangible qualities that can sometimes impact the bonding process. For the most part, we find that dogs pick their favorite person based on all of the above factors that ultimately boil down to time spent with the dog and doing things with the dog that you both enjoy.

However, while this is a reliable recipe to make your dog love you, there are instances where dogs do seem to more naturally gravitate toward one person of the house even when it’s not actually their main caretaker.

In some cases we have noticed that dogs may be more apt to bond with a human of their opposite gender. For example, a male dog will often bond most closely to a female human in the household.

Energy level is another intangible quality that can impact bonding. Sometimes a dog’s personality and energy level just naturally meshes more with a certain member of the household.

A higher energy dog may naturally gravitate toward one of the children in the house — simply sensing that their energy levels are on the same wavelength. Similarly, a calmer and more sensitive dog may bond most with the most emotionally grounded person in the household — feeling safe around this person’s inherent stability.

In conclusion, it is generally not a difficult task to win a doodle puppy’s affection. Walking, playing, positive training with treats, and enthusiastic greeting parties are all ways to connect with your pup. And simply showing genuine love and affection will earn you huge bonding points.

While there are intangible qualities that can sometimes affect who the dog bonds to the most, you can rest assured that in most cases, if you simply spend quality time with your puppy, that you will very quickly climb the ranks as his/her official favorite person.

Jenna and the JLDD Team

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