Ask The Dog Guide: Puppy Won’t Bond

May 19th, 2009 by Dan

My husband and I got a 5 1/2 month old maltipoo. We are both retired so we are home all day. The dog has bonded 100% with my husband, however has nothing to do with me. He runs from me and barks at me. He follows my husband everywhere and if my husband gets out of his sight the dog howls and has a fit. When he was at the breeders, he was with a pack of dogs and has few social skills. Any suggestions? We’re considering getting rid of him, since I’m the one who wanted the dog and the whole thing has turned out badly.

Maltipoo Puppy

Photo by { Amy }


I understand it can be frustrating when you have an idea of how life with a puppy is going to be and then everything seems to go in the opposite direction! However, as you said this little dog had few social skills when you brought him into your household and in order to have him bond properly with you, you need to stop taking his behavior personally. Dogs that spent formative developmental periods bonding with other dogs have difficulty forming relationships with humans. Does this mean it is impossible? Absolutely not. It does mean it will take some time and patience on your part.

In order to encourage your puppy to bond with you, you have to make yourself more tempting and take control of his daily routines. You need to become the predominant caretaker in your pup’s life for the time being.

* Make sure you are the one in charge of feeding your dog, not your husband. Do not free-feed your puppy. Instead, prepare his food at scheduled times and be the one to tend to those meals. You can even feed your puppy by hand occasionally to help him connect you with the positive associations that come with receiving food.

* Even little dogs need daily walks. Schedule in time for 1 or 2 half hour walks per day of one- -on-one time for you and your puppy. Bring along tasty treats and make it a good time for both of you.

* In your home you should be the one who plays your pup’s favorite games and provides his favorite treats. This doesn’t mean you should in any way discourage him from meeting people when you’re out – he does need to socialize!

* Enroll your dog in a puppy training class. This is a fantastic idea for all dogs and at 5.5 months your pooch is in no way too old to participate in a group class! You should be the one to handle the dog (as opposed to your husband). Not only will a class allow him to socialize with other dogs, but it will encourage him to look to you as his handler and further understand your role in his life.

Consider crate training your puppy to provide him with a secure place to stay when you aren’t at home to watch him. Remember, the key to training is rewarding behaviors you want repeated (as opposed to punishment). Good luck with your little guy!

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