This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Dr. Veronika Pfefferkorn-Dellali

A strong bond between human and dog is undoubtedly something wonderful. It not only makes it easier to work together, but also promotes the willingness to cooperate and the trust of the dog. But how is this strong invisible bond created and what does it mean in practice? How to building a bond with the dog and much more you can find out here:

What means bonding?

Relationships are clearly different from bonds, because relationships are omnipresent and develop quickly when two living beings (for example: dog and human) have social contact with each other again and again. Relationships are primarily functional and can also be short-term.

Every bond arises from a relationship and is such a relationship, but it is also a very special and above all a long-term one. The emotional component plays a central role whithin the bond. The bonding partner is irreplaceable, not interchangeable. A bond to another living being is “exclusive”.

When does a bond develop?

Animals have the same basic emotions as we humans (joy, sadness, fear, …). This is important in order to be able to form a bond.

In the first phase of life, the attachment to a place is more important for a puppy than the attachment to a certain person. So until the 14th – 16th week of life almost all people are exciting for a puppy. The development of an intimate, individual connection to single persons is therefore not yet possible in this young phase of life. After that, however, the dog’s ability to bind itself to an individual person begins.

And the good news is, that dogs are still able to build up bonds with new people even at an advanced age. Depending on previous experiences and the character of the dog and its human, this can take a few days, but also several weeks or never develop.

Characteristics of the bond?

A trusting bond between human and dog cannot be forced, it must grow over time. Just like us humans, dogs also look for security and safety. Therefore, those who you know well and on whom you can always rely on are suitable as bonding partners. 

Now what characterizes a bond? The following four points are characteristic:

  • 1: The search for closeness and social exchange (contact lying), hormones (such as oxytocin, the so-called „cuddling hormone“) are released on both sides, which intensify the bond.  
  • 2: A separation reaction.
  • 3: The binding partner as a secure basement.
  • 4: The binding partner as a safe harbour.
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Signs of a secure bond between human and dog

  • The dog is oriented towards his human.
  • He explores the surroundings, if you are there and relaxed.
  • He interrupts exploring or becomes insecure when you are tense/unsure.
  • He seeks the closeness to you (even in stressful situations).
  • He has initial separation pains when you are absent.

Building a bond with the dog – How?

For our dogs it is an incredibly good feeling when we humans behave in a predictable way when we live together. Consistency, clarity and unambiguity in rules and rituals help the dog to feel safe. Important in this context are also boundaries and barriers, which serve the dog as orientation in the group and thus give him security. In addition, the person should be a “solid as a rockco” for his dog, on which the dog can rely in every situation. If there is a binding person nearby, this gives the dog security. Only in this way can he explore a new environment in peace.

Building a bond with the dog: The classic building of trust and loyalty on the part of humans includes socio-positive, bond-building and friendly behaviour towards the dog. For example, voluntary eye contact on the part of the dog should always be commented with a friendly word. Common activities such as walks, games or even exercises that strengthen the (self)confidence of the dog are also very conducive to bonding. In principle, any kind of mutual experience strengthens the bond. 

Make sure that your dog’s needs are always met. Avoid aversive methods and focus on the positive. Always be clear and predictable for your dog (cooperation signal for unpleasant things). 

Hundenase bussi


As the owner of a dog, you know what we are talking about. The bond to a loved one is probably one of the strongest bonds and gives not only us humans the feeling of security and safety. Dogs that can build up a strong bond to their humans are not only more self-confident and stronger in themselves, they are also considered more cooperative. Building up a bond with the dog pays off.