How to Bond With Your Dog: Connect and Understand Dogs Better

If you’re looking for ways on how to bond with your dog, I’d recommend focusing on these three pillars: connection, being present, and trust.

Dogs have this beautiful reputation of being loyal, loving animals. And they truly are!

how to bond with your dog

And creating that connection with dogs through dog communication and bonding with your dog allows you to feel and see how dogs relay their love and loyalty to you.

I always say this: to be able to connect with dogs is a privilege. And it’s a privilege I want every dog owner to have.

What are the best ways to understand and bond with your dog so you can feel that deep connection with them?

Read on to learn more.


Key Takeaway:

  • Dogs don’t use words, but they sure communicate with us on a daily basis. We just have to understand how our dogs communicate to get them better.
  • Establishing leadership and trust is crucial to building a solid relationship with your dog. Moreover, it is the first step to truly knowing what they want to say.
  • When your dog is more relaxed because they no longer have to worry about the home or the people and pets they have to protect, they’ll be more open to you.

Table of Contents:

  1. The Story of Chief: How He Connected With His Dog Owner To Bid His Last Goodbye
  2. How to Bond With a Dog to Understand Them Better
  3. How to Bond With Your Dog: Understanding Common Body Language of Dogs
  4. How to Improve Your Relationship With Your Dog
  5. Understanding Dog Connection: Connecting to Communicate On a Deeper Level
  6. Conclusion: The Best Ways on How to Bond With Your Dog Start With Truly Connecting With Your Dog

The Story of Chief: How He Connected With His Dog Owner To Bid His Last Goodbye

I once worked with a lovely dog owner and their dog, Chief.

(Watch the full video below for Chief’s story.)

He was a strong, active, loving dog, and had grown up alongside his devoted owner. Because they were so close, they have this really POWERFUL connection.

In Chief's final days, there was an unspoken communication between them that was deeply felt.

how to bond with your dog

While on his way out for his usual walk to the fields, Chief halted and fixed his gaze upon his owner. In that moment, the owner sensed that Chief was bidding them farewell, expressing gratitude, love, and the inevitable need to move on.

That experience touched me and continues to tug on my heartstrings because it was a proof that dogs want to talk to us.

Because it serves as a poignant reminder of how easily we can overlook our dog’s subtle cues of really, really wanting to communicate with us.


How to Bond With a Dog to Understand Them Better

What makes Chief’s connection with their owner so, so strong?

Just like in our human relationships, we also have to bond with our dogs to help us truly get what they mean with certain gestures.

bonding with dogs

Our dogs can’t use words; but they surely use body language to communicate love, anxiety, fear, satisfaction, and stress.

And we have to know them better to avoid confusing the thought that they want to communicate with you.

The key to understanding dogs is a mix of establishing with your dog that they can trust you, respect you, and communicate freely with you.

How? Read on.

My TOP Tip on How to Bond With Your Dog: Let Him Know You’re In Charge

In my online program The Dog Calming Code™, I emphasize the importance of being in charge. Of being the pack leader.

You take control of the walks, the food, the routine, and the entire training because they need to see you as a leader.

how to bond with a dog


Because the dogs are programmed to feel like they’re in charge. And if they’ve take on the role of the protector, creating a strong bond can be difficult.

When your dog is more relaxed because they no longer have to worry about the home or the people and pets they have to protect, they’ll be more open to you.

Engage in Interactive Play

Playtime is not just about having fun; it's also an excellent opportunity to strengthen your bond with your dog.

What better way to make strong connections with your dog than in a relaxed and fun environment!

how to bond with dogs

Engage in interactive play sessions where you can actively participate with toys, games, and activities that your dog enjoys.

Whether it's a game of fetch, hide-and-seek, or puzzle toys that stimulate their mind, the key is to be present and fully engaged in the experience.

This shared enjoyment will help tell your dog “You can relax with me, you are safe with me, you can trust me.”


Explore the Great Outdoors

Taking your dog on regular walks, dog exercises, or outings in nature is not only beneficial for their physical health but also a wonderful way to bond.

One of the benefits of exploring the outdoors with your dog is having the opportunity to start recall training.

bonding with dogs

In my experience, my approach to recall training has allowed me to deepen my bond with my dogs.

Recall training in the outdoors has helped me

You can read my blog about doing recall training right here.

Whether you're exploring a local park, hiking a trail, or simply strolling around your neighborhood, make it a point to embrace the outdoors and allow your dog to explore and engage with their environment.

Practice Positive Reinforcement Training

Training sessions are not only an effective way to teach your dog new skills and behaviors but also an opportunity to build trust and enhance your bond.

During these training moments, you can establish that you lead with love and gentleness… not fear.

how to bond with dogs

Use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and rewards to encourage and reinforce desired behaviors. Training sessions should be fun, interactive, and filled with positive energy.

Relax and Unwind

Bonding with your dog doesn't always have to involve high-energy activities, even calm moments help, too.

Dogs also appreciate moments of relaxation and tranquility. You can have a dedicated time for quiet bonding, such as cuddling on the couch, enjoying a gentle grooming session, or simply sitting together in peaceful coexistence.

These serene moments will allow you to connect on a deeper level. Additionally, this will give a sense of calm and security for your beloved pet.

Implement the Dog Calming Code™

One of my favorite nuggets of dog training wisdom in the Dog Calming Code™️ is learning how to REALLY communicate with dogs.

Despite your best efforts in knowing how to bond with your dog, it will be hard to connect with a dog that is not focused on YOU.

Keeping a dog calm and focused on YOU is crucial to establish this essential aspect of your relationship! Especially if you want to stay sane while bonding with your dog!

how to bond with your dog

When you and your dog are constantly challenging each other, your relationship will suffer, just like any human relationship. It loses its joy and becomes strained.

That's why establishing a healthy relationship with your dog is crucial as a dog owner. And the Dog Calming Code™️ will guide you in achieving that.

Once you have this foundation in place, everything else naturally falls into place, and connecting with your dog no longer feels like a battle.

How to Bond With Your Dog: Understanding Common Body Language of Dogs

Dogs are the masters of body language. They don’t speak words, but they surely speak their hearts through wagging, leaping, and growling.

If you want to understand how dogs truly communicate, be familiar with some of the most common dog body language.

Dog Communication Through the Tail

Your dog's tail can be a powerful indicator of their emotional state because different tail positions convey different messages:

Tail Wagging

By looking at the position of your dog’s tail, you can kind of tell their feelings from the get go.

how to bond with your dog

A wagging tail signifies happiness and excitement. The faster and broader the wag, the more joyful your dog is.

Tucked Tail

A tail tucked between your dog's legs indicates fear or anxiety. It's also a submissive gesture, suggesting they don't want to engage in conflict.

Curved, Tall Tail

When your dog's tail stands tall and curved, it may signal fear and a sense of being threatened. Be cautious as they may resort to defensive behaviors like snapping or biting.


Dog Communication Through Their Mouth

Your dog's mouth can provide additional insights into their emotions and state of mind:

Relaxed, Open Mouth

An open mouth with a relaxed expression indicates a content and happy dog. Additionally, a relaxed mouth signals calmness.

Tightly Closed Mouth

If your dog clenches their jaw tightly, it suggests caution and suspicion towards something in their environment. Also, it might suggest aggression.

Nose and Lip Licking

Outside of mealtimes, licking their nose and lips can indicate fear or anxiety. Also, it could indicate their feeling of stranger danger.

how to bond with dogs


Dogs may yawn when they feel fearful or stressed, signaling their discomfort in a particular situation.


When your dog pants excessively, especially on a cool day, it could be a sign of stress or worry.

Your Dog's Eyes Say It All

Like humans, dogs communicate a range of emotions through their eyes. Observe their eye expressions for valuable cues.

Wide Eyes with a Direct Stare

If your dog maintains a fixed gaze, especially with a lot of white visible around their pupils, they may be preparing to react aggressively to a perceived threat.


Avoiding Eye Contact

When your dog intentionally avoids eye contact, it signals an attempt to avoid confrontation or evade blame (like when they've caused mischief).

Soft Eyes with Relaxed Lids

A calm and happy dog often has soft, relaxed eyes. Moreover, calm eyes indicate that they don’t feel threatened.

Dogs Can Vocalize Their Feelings

In addition to body language, dogs use vocalizations to express themselves. Pay attention to the pitch and context of their sounds:

High-Pitched Sounds

High-pitched barks or whines, especially when around familiar people, accompany excitement and playfulness.

Low-Pitched Sounds

Growls or deep barks are often indicators of feeling threatened or defensive.


Multiple barks in rapid succession typically suggest focused attention on a specific stimulus, like a passing dog or the arrival of the mailman.


Your dog may whine to convey a need or desire. If they're near the door, it might indicate a need for a bathroom break, while proximity to their food bowl could mean hunger.

how to connect with dogs


Howling is a unique vocalization that dogs use to communicate with other dogs or respond to external sounds like sirens.

How to Bond With Your Dog: Improving Your Relationship With Your Dog

Trust and loyalty — the kind that lasts — is developed with your dog day by day.

“But Doggy Dan, I feel like my dog and I didn’t really have a great start. Can I change it?”

As a dog owner, you will not be spared from making mistakes. But there are ways you can restore the relationship.

If you’re looking for ways how to bond with a dog and improve dog-owner relationship, here are some suggestions below.

Set Clear Boundaries and Be a Consistent Leader

Dogs thrive when they have a clear understanding of their boundaries and know who is in charge.

When they see you as a leader, their trust in you SOARS. They will begin to listen to you, respect you, and follow your expectations.

strengthen bond with dogs

And if a dog sees you as the leader, your relationship can become smoother.

Establish yourself as a calm and consistent leader by setting rules and expectations for your dog's behavior. Although this can be challenging at first, it will significantly help your relationship.

Consistency and follow-through will help them feel secure and understand their place in the family hierarchy.


Learn How to Bond With Your Dog By Providing a Safe and Secure Environment

Creating a safe and nurturing environment is crucial for your dog's overall well-being.

If you’re not a big fan of restless dogs who can’t stop barking or running around, here’s my tip: provide a place where they feel safe.

Moreover, apart from establishing that you’re in charge, ensure they have a comfortable space to rest and feel protected.

Remove potential hazards, provide appropriate chew toys, and establish a routine that offers stability and predictability.

When your dog feels safe and not always on the edge because of anxiety, they can be more relaxed and at ease around you.

Lead with Gentleness and Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool for building a strong bond with your dog.

Focus on rewarding desired behaviors with treats, praise, and affection. Also, avoid punishment or harsh training methods that can erode trust and create fear.

Leading with gentleness and positive reinforcement will foster a positive and trusting relationship with your dog because your relationship won’t be based on fear.

Practice Active Listening and Understanding in Bonding With Your Dog

Just like humans, dogs have their own unique personalities, preferences, and needs. But dogs communicate their needs differently.

Practice active listening by paying attention to their body language, vocalizations, and cues. Seek to understand their communication signals and respond appropriately.

By showing empathy and being attuned to their needs, you strengthen the bond and build trust.

When It Comes to Bonding With Your Dog, Be Patient and Build Trust

Building trust takes time and patience because your dog has to know that you are the leader. They need to trust that you won’t burst into scary fits.

Respect your dog's individual pace and avoid rushing the bonding process because this can help you establish trust more.

Be patient during training, allowing them to learn at their own speed. Consistently provide love, care, and support to demonstrate your commitment and reliability.

Trust is the foundation of a strong relationship, and as it grows, so will the depth of your connection with your dog.


Understanding Dog Connection: Connecting to Communicate On a Deeper Level

Although dog communication is important for responding to a dog’s essential needs — hunger, exhaustion, stress, illness — it’s also needed for understanding more of your dog’s feelings.

If you truly want to understand your dog beyond body language and words, here are some things you can practice.

Empathy and Intuition

Develop a sense of empathy towards your dog because it is in putting yourself in their paws and understanding their perspective that we truly get them.

By developing intuition and tuning into their emotions, you can respond appropriately and provide the support they need.

Connect through Touch

Touch is a powerful means of communication for dogs, so pay attention to how they respond to gentle strokes, scratches, or massages.

Notice their body's reactions, such as relaxation or tension, as it can indicate their comfort level and emotional response.

Be Present with Compassion

Practice being fully present with your dog, engaging in compassionate and non-judgmental awareness.

Moreover, by setting aside distractions and focusing solely on their presence, you create a safe space for them to express themselves authentically.


Reflect and Respond

Reflect on your dog's behavior and consider the underlying emotions they may be experiencing.

Are they seeking comfort, reassurance, or companionship?

Respond to their unspoken needs with empathy and understanding.

Mindful Awareness

Cultivate a state of mindful awareness when interacting with your dog. Let your dog know that you’re 100% aware of what they want to say.

Tune in to their unique quirks and patterns, allowing you to comprehend their emotions and intentions.

Notice Environmental Triggers

Observe how your dog reacts to different environments, people, and stimuli.

Take note of their responses to certain sounds, scents, or situations because these will give you the biggest clues.

Understanding their triggers will help you create a safe and nurturing environment that supports their emotional well-being.

Seek Connection, Not Control

Instead of focusing solely on training and obedience, prioritize building a genuine connection with your dog. Strive for mutual understanding and cooperation.

Embrace their individuality and unique communication style because this allows for a deeper level of understanding.


Conclusion: The Best Ways on How to Bond With Your Dog Start With Truly Connecting With Your Dog

In the journey of building a strong and meaningful bond with your dog, the secret really lies in truly connecting with them.

Because it is through this connection that you can begin to understand and appreciate the depths of their emotions, desires, and unique personality.

When you make this genuine, lasting connection, you pave the way for a profound and fulfilling relationship with your canine companion. And you also send a message that you love your pet.

Additionally, attentively observing and empathetically interpreting these signals, helps you gain a deeper understanding of their needs, fears, and joys.

And this understanding is a gift both your dog and you deserve.

~ Doggy Dan 


Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

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