top of page

Bond vs Relationship

Why a strong bond is the unbreakable foundation of human & dog interactions.

The basics first

Let's establish the difference between relationship and bond.

Relationship; Describes a purely functional behavioural biological interaction. It depends on the daily understanding of solving problems with a specific social partner, problems which otherwise couldn't be solved as well or not solved at all. The recognition of a relationship of two or more individuals shows in their behaviour. The value of a social partner depends on the ability to adapt, based on knowledge and predictability of the other partner's behaviour.

Bond; Is purely emotional. Feeling good in the proximity of a social partner, is not the only thing we can feel, it also creates a different hormonal condition. We can develop many bonds, but the value of a bond can never be substituted. The value lies in an "inner picture" of the social partner, which dogs develop and for example remember, when there is a physical separation from that social partner.

The different types of bond

Location bond

The first experience that puppies make when coming home to their new families, is a being at a new location. They quickly start seeing their new homes as a safe haven and they often don't want to leave it until they are around 14 weeks young. Not much later, the focus will shift from the location to the humans.

People bond

From around 16 weeks young, puppies slowly start developing a bond to their main person. The signs of this is, is your puppy showing you more eye contact with the owners and sometimes a slight hesitation towards meeting strangers. Often a bond is not fully formed until the dog is one year old. During puberty, many connections in the brain are dissolved and newer, stronger, more effective connections are being made. The personality of a dog is often not formed until 18-21 months of age.

There a four main signs of a strong bond:

  1. Seeking closeness: This is not only physical! It's about eye contact or just lying next to each other

  2. Seperation reaction: No dog is entirely happy to watch their beloved humans leaving the house without them. However, a dog who has a good and healthy bond and knows, that their human is coming back will not show destructive or anxious behaviour. A strong bond shows if the dog is respecting personal and physical boundaries.

  3. Safe haven: The dog knows, that he or she is safe next to their humans. The dog trusts the human and knows that they are able to protect them (for example if the dog being overly sniffed by other dogs).

  4. Safe base: The dog knows that they can explore the environment calmly and relaxed, as they know that their humans keep an eye out for them and provide a safe environment. The humans become someone who the dog can ask for help since they see that their human is calm, confident and assertive. They seem like a person who can handle stresses easily without becoming anxious.

How do we achieve an unbreakable bond with our dogs?

If we are open to it, dogs can bring out the best version of ourselves. And that's because, they bring us back a piece of nature into our civilised world. They are reconnecting us to nature. Reconnecting us to simply being. We become calmer and more relaxed.

How does this affect our dogs?

Studies on wild dogs in Italy have shown, that this dog pack (yes, they formed a pack!!) live in a 20-40 square meter space. They love to explore and they are opportunistic, with a happy go lucky attitude. The older more respected animals, have a calm yet neutral positive behaviour towards the younger animals and it seems that older dogs are endlessly patient yet don't allow the younger ones to cross boundaries.They are spending all their days together and have a foundation of trust and respect. A great bond simply starts, by doing things together with your dog with a calm and happy energy. Being happy around your dog, means you will be more patient and be able to provide better guidance. For example, being aware of not using the dog's name in a bad way. Just being with your dog in a calm, collected manner will encourage a strong bond to grow. Then of course, the fulfilment. Do you walk and work me everyday? Do you engage with me? Can I follow and trust you? These are all questions your dog could ask you. Provide leadership, fulfilment and spend time together that is the ultimate goal, however it is the process which should bring joy.


bottom of page