We recently wrote a post about how to bond with your pup! This article specifically addresses puppies ages 8-10 weeks as this is when most reputable breeders send their pups home.
However, at Jenna Lee Designer Doodles, we have an optional training program to teach your pup basic commands, potty training, etc. which typically involves sending your pup home when he/she is 12-20 weeks old. Whether you are choosing to enroll your new pup in a training program offered by your breeder, or are planning to use a board and train program when your doodle is a bit older, you may be wondering “Will my dog still bond with me?”
A Trained Puppy Will Still Bond With You
Many of our puppy parents who opt for training are very excited to have someone else do the hard work of potty-training, sleepless nights, etc. but worry that they will not be able to have a deep bond with their pup due to his older age and/or because he will have already bonded with his trainer.
In general doodles are known for their happy-go-lucky and family-friendly nature. Some dog breeds are known for bonding more closely with one person (German Shepherds and Akitas come to mind as well as other dogs with a naturally protective nature.)
Not only are poodles known for being social and people-oriented, but so are the other breeds that make up the most popular doodles: labradoodles, goldendoodles, bernedoodles, and sheepadoodles all come from dog breeds that are known for their loving, affectionate, and friendly personalities! As a result, your doodle pup will bond closely with his trainer, there’s no doubt about that, but his loyalties are typically transferred quite easily to his new family when the time comes.
The breed’s disposition is one important factor when it comes to bonding easily to new owners, but training methods are also important! We find positive reinforcement methods to be the best way to help a pup learn to trust and bond with humans in general. Recent research has shown that not all training methods are created equal and that positive reinforcement does encourage deeper attachment in dogs.
Puppies Can Have Bonds with Multiple Humans at the Same Time
At our training program, we not only use positive reinforcement training methods, but we also make sure to include group lessons and contact with a number of different people and trainers so that pup learns to accept commands from multiple people and build ties with more than one person. This further ensures that he will adapt easily when placed with his new family.
To elaborate, our goal as trainers is to teach your pup how to relate well to humans in general. This means learning specific commands, but also extensive socialization with lots of different people and rewarding overall politeness (i.e. not jumping up, learning to sit to ‘ask’ for something, etc.)
As a result, in a well-rounded puppy training program, your pup should learn some specific skills, but more importantly, he should learn how to respond politely to people in general which will only enhance his bonding with you! Your doodle should learn that people are fun companions, but that they are also to be respected and listened to. A doodle pup that comes home with this frame of mind will bond very easily with his new human!
We often consider the training of service dogs when it comes to understanding how dogs are able to transfer their loyalty to another person. Among the most highly trained dogs, a disability service dog can take up to two years to fully train. It is at this point that he actually meets his “real owner.”
The bond between a service dog and his owner is truly remarkable as they are able to go everywhere together and are never separated. In this case, the extent of the dog’s prior training only enhances the bond with his new owner rather than diminishes it!
Still, we do expect a transition phase when your doodle pup comes home. One of the best ways to help with this transition is to continue his training! Training is an important way to bond with your pup. Your trainer should be able to show you his methods — verbal commands, hand motions, etc. so that you can easily transfer these same methods into your house. The sooner your pup recognizes you are the “new person in charge,” the sooner he will bond with you.
Training not only benefits humans as a well-mannered dog is much more enjoyable to be around, but it also benefits the pup as he knows he can look to you for direction, leadership and safety. Not to mention, doodles (known for their high intelligence), typically find training exercises to be quite fun!
So if your older pup is coming home to you already trained, we recommend picking up right where his previous trainer left off and immediately jumping into a few training exercises. Keep these light-hearted and fun for the first few days as your pup is going through a big adjustment, but a brief run-through of his basic commands a couple times a day with lots of positive reinforcement and treats will help him stay sharp on his training as well as learn to quickly trust you as his new trainer.
Along with training exercises, treats and hand-feeding can really help your dog build a connection with you during his first few days or weeks at home. A key part of bonding relies upon convincing the dog that his owner is the source of all good things. Most dogs are quite food motivated and definitely consider a treat a good thing!
Puppies Will Bond Strongly To Those Who Feed Them
Consequently, the owner directly delivering the food or treat with his hand builds powerful associations for the dog. These positive associations along with the interactions during training sessions, serve to expedite the bonding process.
Finally, nothing beats simple quality time when it comes to bonding with your new pup. Dogs are pack-oriented and enjoy being close to their pack members. Simply being near your dog whether its walking him on a leash, sitting next to him on the couch, etc. will help him to bond quickly with you.
Through the combination of training, treats, and time, we’ve yet to see a doodle be unable to bond with his new owners even if he/she is coming home to you as an older pup through a training program or otherwise.
However, not all training programs are created equal so we do recommend asking your breeder or trainer about their training methods and ways that they encourage bonding with the pup’s new owners upon graduation.
Jenna and the JLDD Team