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Loves me, loves him more

My dog loves me, but he loooooves my husband. It’s not even a contest: put my husband and me on opposite ends of a room, and Rocket will always run to him first. Am I not a good dog person? – Nisha Bhat, Ahmedabad

Just like humans, some dogs gel better with certain humans. Sometimes, a seemingly unwarranted affection between a dog and a person is simply a meeting of the minds. So, why does your dog love your husband more? Likely reasons why your dog loves him more are that your dog is not used to his attention, he gives your dog extra attention, he gives your dog treats or that your dog is bored. There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can consider to help figure out the main cause and there are some things you can do about it. If your dog does not seem to be trying to avoid you, it would be likely that your dog gives him attention because your dog is not used to getting attention from him. In this case, the best option would be to just allow your dog to continue doing it.

It could be the case that you have been encouraging your dog not to give you attention by pushing it away when it gives you attention and rewarding it when it does not give you attention. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it gives you attention and to avoid rewarding it so much when it does not. Another possible cause is that your husband has been giving your dog training and your dog looks to him for direction as a result. Though we often quip that opposites attract, this doesn’t necessarily hold true in the doggy human world. A more appropriate phrase may be, “Birds of a feather stick together.” Generally, dogs are most drawn to the person that shares a similar temperament. Reserved, quiet pups are more likely to favour the gentle, quiet owner, while energetic, boisterous canines will naturally want to spend time with the outgoing, overly playful owner. If you have a loud personality but a relaxed dog, consider bonding over the quiet times – cuddling on the couch while watching a movie. For the introvert whose dog is outgoing, try spending some extra time together during outdoor playtime where you can both let loose. Those first six months are formative ones. Understandably, dogs often feel a strong bond with their primary caregivers and attention-givers at an early age. Good or bad experiences during this time can create long-lasting preferences for certain people. For example, canines who have little to no socialisation or exposure to children may naturally go on to have a hard time bonding with babies and tots. Early mistreatment by a man or woman may naturally cause your dog to prefer one sex over the other. If you adopted your canine companion later in life, don’t worry. Continued socialisation is key to reframing prior poor experiences into better, happy memories with you, their new forever friend. Not only are dogs more likely to gravitate towards those who voluntarily spend ample time with them, but the quality of time spent has a big impact. The pet parent who spends more time giving belly rubs and treats is more likely to garner his affection than the one who takes him to the vet and scolds him for being on the couch. In other words, positive associations give way to positive feelings. Your furball may not like the vet, because he associates the vet with shots, bloodwork and unpleasant medical instruments. Likewise, if one pet parent is associated with unpleasant (yet necessary) duties, he may naturally be more inclined to stick around the other parent. If you’re the one required to carry out such necessary evils, make sure to incorporate plenty of positive associations at home, such as treats, playtime, walks and belly scratches.

The good news is dogs are moldable. Even if they’ve had unfortunate experiences in the past, you can forge ahead and make new memories with your pooch with plenty of positive associations to create a lifelong bond.