Anyone have some good puppy bonding / trust building games / exercises they've had a lot of success with?
We already do a lot of tug. Looking for exercises that will enhance his WANT to pay attention to me. Not just because I'm calling him
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With all 4 of my pups when I first had them and they first were able to explore the outdoors with me, starting with the fenced in backyard, they stuck to me like glue, always in sight. As they slowly started to wander and investigate on their own, I would hide behind a tree, shed or whatever allowed me to "spy" on them without being seen by them. It would be just a matter of time until the pup looked for me and couldn't see me and started to search me out. I'd let them look around for a bit and the moment I sensed they were a bit "concerned" in their search for me, I'd let them off the hook and come out from hiding into view. All of them responded in a similar fashion, they'd come running back to me and of course were greeted with excitement and loving. I always felt it was important from an early age for my dog to keep me in sight or at the very least, an awareness of where I was.
I also believe, getting down to a dog's level can help in the bonding process. Read up on dog postures and what they mean and employ them when the opportunity exists. Humans stand tall over their dogs all too much but when the situation is proper, getting down to the dog's level has a bonding effect in my opinion.
Also, if one chooses, letting the dog up onto your bed at night has it's benefits in the bonding department, perhaps it solidifies the pack mentality to a degree. Of course, this is contingent on the fact that the pup knows WHO's bed it is. At the least, in the beginning, allowing the pup to sleep in the same room wherever it may be, creates a sense of security for the pup. The pup over time will find it's "favorite" place to sleep.
Activities such as gentle grooming and light stroking massages from nose to tail while your pup is relaxed seems to have great benefit. Light gentle strokes from nose to tips of ears to the pads etc. all seems to develop a physical relationship which all benefit from as time passes.
Overall, I have learned over my 4 dogs that the most content dog is the one that truly senses your leadership and comes to rely on you showing them the way and guiding them wonderfully. The more places you can take your dog ( within reason ) the better as well.....I guess it is simply what they call "true companionship".
Good luck and enjoy every minute of their puppyhood as it is a fleeting moment and a time to take full advantage of.