Why do some dogs become attached to just one person?

It is quite a common occurrence for pet dogs to become attached to just one person – this is usually within a household, but it can be that the family dog prefers the dog walker, or the neighbour who offers him treats.  In this article Holidays4Dogs takes a look at why some dogs only have eyes for one person.

Puppies in particular will tend to bond with the person who offers them the most attention and provides them with food and daily care.  Adult rescue dogs can also choose to spend more time with one person over another, particularly if they have come from difficult backgrounds.  Certain breeds, such as German Shepherds and Chow Chows often gravitate towards just one person, whereas others, like Labradors will be big buddies with everyone they meet!

Most of the time, having a dog favouring one person in the family isn’t really a problem, but occasionally it can cause some members of the household to be disappointed that the dog doesn’t appear to like them!  Sometimes, having a dog that is so completely attached to one family member can cause issues if that person goes out.  It can be even more problematic if the dog refuses to take instructions from the person he is least bonded with and when a dog becomes over attached to one person, this can create stress and separation anxiety when left.

Sometimes, it can happen that a dog bonds with the person who is not necessarily the primary carer – although this tends to be rarer situation.  Generally speaking a dog will form a strong attachment to people who offer them the most affection, time and attention.  This can be in the form of interactive walks, training, or simply sleeping on the settee together.

If you want to encourage your dog to be more sociable with all members of the family, Holidays4Dogs offers some hints and tips you can try.

  • Share the care – all family members can take it in turns to feed, water and walk the dog.  For dogs that are disinterested in certain family members, hand feeding can go a long way to creating a connection.

  • Training – as long as everyone is singing from the same hymn book, all family members should spend some time training the family dog.  Even school age children can get involved with supervision and guidance from an adult. Incorporate lots of tasty treats along the way.

  • Positive associations – if your dog seems particularly un-fussed about one member of the family – but loves a particular toy – make sure that person is the only one who plays with the dog and his special toy.

  • Learn a new skill – fun agility or cani-cross are great activities for bonding with your dog – and almost anyone in the family can have a go.

It can be a bit of a disappointment if the family dog appears to snub you!  However, the above tips should help to balance the love and encourage your dog to widen his friends circle.

If you feel your dog is overly attached to one person such that he becomes distressed without them, you may need to seek the help of a good dog trainer or behaviourist.  Most dogs and puppies, however, can learn to adapt to different members of the household being their caregivers; but whether your dog is a one-man dog or a social butterfly, one thing is certain – we are lucky to have the affections of such a unique and special animal.