Dear Porky and Buddy,
Last week, a dedicated reader wrote in about getting their first dog.
Well, I just got my first dog.
But, I don’t know if she’ll like me.
I’m sure it’s as good of a match as any because we both enjoy the same activities – eating and sleeping, right?
I don’t want to force a relationship here, but what can I do to woo my new love?
How do I seal the deal with my Princess?
It’s all chemistry.
Bonding, be it human-human or human-animal relationships, is controlled by the “love hormone,” oxytocin.
Some studies have shown that even a few minutes of petting your cat or dog daily prompts the release of this cuddle chemical in both pet owner and furry friend.
Basically, oxytocin promotes parental nurturing behavior.
In the process, it can lower your blood pressure, help you relax and reduce levels of stress hormones.
And it can do the same for Princess.
So how do you make sure there is a lot of oxytocin flowing in both directions?
First, you need to make Princess feel safe in her new home.
Be consistent with your routine and rules to establish trust; always provide good food and fresh water.
Initially, give her space to get acquainted with her new digs.
When you approach her, remember that the lower you are, the less threatening you will come across; so rather than tower over your new friend, get down on her level and sit quietly, allowing her to approach and greet you on her own.
Grooming is a great opportunity for bonding.
If Princess is not used to being brushed, start out slowly, one brush stroke at a time.
The object is to make grooming fun and interactive, not necessarily useful at first.
You want it to be a source of pleasure, not stress.
Next, get physical!
Play-time always encourages positive interactions.
Interactive toys, like tug ropes and balls for dogs, are a great way to get your bodies moving.
Exercise too, take a walk around the neighborhood to introduce Princess around.
Treats are never a bad idea (as long as you also keep to her regular diet, too).
Treats are not just about the pleasure of eating though; they are a basic training tool.
Gaining Princess’ respect is important in the early stages and rewards are an integral part of this.
Start with easy commands like ‘sit’ and work your way up. Throwing in a bit of this training on your walks together is a great way to incorporate these two steps.
Above all, be patient!
You both will need time to adjust to new living arrangements.
Let the oxytocin joy juice flow through you . . .
P.S. For all you cat people out there, remember that while the toys and treats may be different, these positive interactions are equally important to create lasting feline-human bonds.
So go buy some feather wands and cat treats, and have some fun.
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.
Located at 29 W. Seneca St., Oswego, NY.
Email: [email protected]
Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other.
New York State Registered Shelter/Rescue-Registration No. RR239