Trainer shares five steps to building a better bond with your dog — and number two is so important!

Couple enjoying time with their dog at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Regardless of how your fur friend ended up in your life, you likely know that building and strengthening the bond the two of you share takes time and effort.

From learning how to play with a dog to finding new ways to have more fun with your dog on walks, there are countless ways that you can be there for your dog and deepen your connection at the same time.

And according to a study published in the journal Animals, the advantages to having a strong relationship with your fur friend go well beyond simply enjoying each other's company. 

Researchers have found that the relationship between a human and their pup not only benefits human physical and mental health, it also benefits canine health as well — so if you needed an additional incentive to build a tighter bond, that's certainly a big one! 

If you're already sold on the perks of improving your relationship with your dog, you'll love expert trainer and behaviorist Nikki Mather's tips, which she recently shared in an Instagram video. Check it out below or read on for a summary...

1. Provide plenty of decompression walks: "This means walks whereby they can have more freedom and control over their movements, either off-lead or on a long-lead. No triggers, no stress, just lots of sniffing," advises Mather. 

2. Speak up for them: "You are your dog’s biggest advocate. Don’t be afraid to tell people ‘no, you can’t stroke my dog’ or ‘no, your dog can’t say hi’. Don’t be pressured into putting them into situations you know they cannot handle, it’s okay to say no!"

3. Ensure they have outlets for instinctual needs: Mather says this includes making sure there are plenty of opportunities to dig, chase, sniff, retrieve and do all the things our dog's love to do that keep them happy and healthy. For more on the benefits of sniffing, check out this first-person account of how a 45-minute sniffari tired out this Border Collie more than a two-hour walk. 

4. Honor their social preferences: "Your dog might not want to say hi to every other dog or person," says Mather. "They may be selective of who they want to play with, and sometimes they might not want to play at all. That’s okay!"

5. Love them: That means through the good days, the bad days, and all the days in between. 

The above tips from Mather are things that will benefit all dogs and in turn, they'll improve the bond you share with your pup by building trust. 

For more advice on how you can give your dog everything they need to thrive while still keeping up with work and a busy family life, check out these seven ways to make more time for your dog.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.