You may see your dog as your best friend, but are you his favorite person?
We all know that canines love to be with their humans, but they are also prone to having a firm favorite within their family pack. From running over when you come home to following you around, your dog will show clear signs if you are ‘the one’.
But how did they choose you in the first place? And if you’re not yet number one in your dog’s heart, is there anything you can do? We explore how to get a dog to like you and if dogs choose their favorite human.
Do Dogs Have a Favorite Person?
While every dog is different, most canines gravitate towards one person they see as ‘theirs’.
Overall, this ‘Velcro’ behavior is manageable and, let’s be honest, pretty adorable. But it’s important to recognize normal, happy dog behavior in this situation. Overt attachment due to separation anxiety is something you want to avoid as it can result in negative behavior such as destructive tendencies or poor potty habits when you are not around.
Factors Behind Their Choice
So, what is it that triggers this one-person association, and do dogs choose their favorite human? Here are the primary factors in this strong dog-human connection.
The first six months of a puppy’s life are the key socialization period where they forge connections. And this is because developing puppies’ brains are incredibly receptive to new experiences which can help shape them as they move into life. When getting a new puppy, early socialization is important to ensure they have sufficient exposure to a wide range of places, people, and things. These early positive experiences make for a happy adult dog that can form healthy bonds with their favorite people.
Attention and Affection
Most dogs tend to bond with the person that gives them the most attention, time, and affection. A dog will respond to your behavior, so if you are kind and positive in their company, then they will return the favor and you will become a candidate when they choose their favorite person. Physical interactions help this connection, for example, making time to play fetch, grooming sessions, belly rubs, and dog massages.
Your positive presence in their daily routine counts too. When it comes to affection, dogs tend to look for consistency, so, if you are the one that fills their food bowl, takes them for a walk, lets them out for a toilet break and checks they are ok, then this all reinforces the bond. And you will soon become the one your dog associates with safety, love, and affection and generally ensuring their physical and emotional needs are met.
Building on the affection and attention theme, dogs will bond with their ‘favorite person’ if the relationship provides plenty of positive associations. And from a dog’s point of view, the positive association can include plenty of one on one time, playtime, tasty treats, sofa cuddles, and long walks.
In short, if a person becomes the source of positive interactions and good stuff for their own dog, chances are they will be awarded the ‘my top human’ badge and become their dog’s favorite. And from a human’s position, these positive associations also support the training of their pet, so it’s a win-win.
It’s often said that humans come to resemble their dogs and vice versa. While we are not sure that this is true, there can be a personality connection that crosses human/canine borders.
Just in the same way humans gravitate towards like-minded people, dogs respond to a person that has the same disposition or shares similar personalities. For example, a bouncy dog is going to respond more positively to the outdoorsy type who mirrors the dog’s own energy level and is happy to take them on a long muddy run through the park.
As well as a synergy between canine and human personalities, the breed type can also determine whether they are going to bond more with an individual person. In fact, some breeds tend to bond strongly to a single person, especially the companion dogs, guard dogs, or watchdog breed.
Dog breeds that prefer to have only one person to call their own include the Akita, the Dachshund, the Chihuahua, and the Shiba Inu. Whereas the complete opposite are breeds such as the Boxer, Labrador Retriever, and the Boston Terrier, who are all breeds that prefer several favorite humans to share the love around!
Can Dogs Change Their Allegiance?
While it’s most likely their primary caregiver a dog gets attached to, some dogs can bond with someone outside of the family group, such as their favorite walker or dog sitter. And dogs can also change their allegiances when it comes to their favorite person. The bond between a human and their dog is not always set in stone and there are factors that can alter the dynamic, such as:
A Routine Change
Dogs are creatures of habit and so if their routine is disrupted it can be unsettling. And if their favorite human is not there on hand to reassure or give a dog plenty of attention, then they may look elsewhere.
Life can get in the way of the dog/favorite person connection meaning you can’t consistently spend time together. A new job with longer working hours, a new partner or hobby that takes you away from the home, or a busy social life can remove the attention and affection part of the bonding equation.
Changes in Their Home Environment
Dogs are also sensitive souls and don’t always immediately cope well with change. A house move, a new baby, even a new pet, can all upset the balance in a dog’s life. And if his favorite human is not up to scratch when it comes to attention, a dog could gravitate towards another who is able to give him the time and support he needs.
Ways to Strengthen the Bond With Your Dog
If you are not already, it is possible to become your dog’s favorite person. And if you are their number one, then you need to keep working at it so they always associate you with the good stuff. But being your dog’s favorite shouldn’t be a chore as ultimately it means spending quality time with them, being consistent with their training, lavishing them with attention and affection, having fun, keeping them safe, and enjoying your pet-owning life.
And remember, a dog doesn’t just decide they don’t like you anymore. In so many ways you are their world. And as your dog’s favorite person, it’s your job to be there when they need you. And that waggy tail when you get home should be more than enough reward.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.