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How Do Dogs Pick Their Favorite Humans?
DogsBehavior

How Do Dogs Pick Their Favorite Humans?

Critter Culture Staff
Updated May 16, 2022

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It's easy to take it personally when your dog's favorite person isn't, well, you. It doesn't mean your dog doesn't love you or appreciate the many ways you care for it. Like humans, dogs are complex individuals, and various factors play into who they connect with and get the most excited to see.

1

Youthful conditioning

Adorable puppy Jack Russell Terrier in the owner's hands

Have you ever seen one of those viral videos where animals reunite with humans they haven't seen in years and look super happy to see them? That kind of bond is often forged when the animal is young. Dogs' primary socialization period is between three and 16 weeks old. What happens in the first two to six months of a puppy's life can be formative. During this period, who they get to know also makes a significant impression and informs preferences, fears of the unfamiliar, and stereotyping. If you're a puppy's primary caregiver but live in a busy household, your puppy may take to any of your housemates or family members.

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2

A matter of time

man with his dog in public park mladenbalinovac / Getty Images

So, you were a key decision-maker when it was time to adopt your dog. You provide for it and are responsible for it. But are you the one spending the most quality time with little buddy? Just like 10,000 hours can help you master a skill, the more time you invest in relationships, the stronger they become. If you head out to work every day, there's a good chance your dog will develop a slightly better bond with its sitter or the person you've entrusted with feeding and walking it.

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3

Tender loving care

Shot of a young woman relaxing with her dog at home PeopleImages / Getty Images

You do the poop scooping, and yes, this is as clear a sign as any that you are attached to your dog. But how else do you show your love? If it's not apparent and you're a bit stingy with cuddles and physical affection, your dog's going to make a beeline for the people showing it the most TLC. Dogs want personal masseuses, not a hands-off approach.

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4

Positive associations

man feeding dog LightFieldStudios / Getty Images

Maybe your dog's a foodie. In that case, it will love the person who gives it the best chow. Or perhaps it likes to horse around, so to speak, and there's only one person in your home that lets it do certain activities or plays its favorite games. These are the small things that can sway a dog.

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5

Soul mates

a young woman and a puppy are having fun cuddling DRAKULA IMAGES / Getty Images

You know how it is. Sometimes, there's an ease to chatting with a new person you meet, which comes down to personality and being on the same wavelength. If we click better with certain people, it's not a leap to think that some dogs and people are just better, more natural matches. Dog personality traits include calmness, courage, sociability, and trainability.

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6

In the genes

A woman petting a cute red dog Shiba inu, sleeping on her lap. Elena Shvetcova / Getty Images

Dog breeds have a part to play in this story too. Some breeds are more wilful, others more obedient. Some are ideal for introverts. Dog breeds can be more inclined to laziness, while others are bred for hard work. Golden retrievers, poodles, and beagles spread their love like confetti, while chow chows keep their crews tight. There are also breeds that bond only with one person, including greyhounds, Basenjis, Shibu Inus, and cairn terriers.

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7

Sir licks a lot

Close-up of dog licking mans face during sunny day Cavan Images / Getty Images

How do dogs display devotion to someone? One way is by licking them. You will likely get all slobbery with greeting kisses when a dog likes you. Of course, your dog may be a bit free and easy with his smooches, but if you're on the receiving end of one of its smackers, it's a good sign.

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8

A tail for two

dog looking at owner at the park

Dogs follow their favs around wherever they go. If your dog is your own little tail, they've probably imprinted on you. And if your dog wags its tail from side to side, but especially to the right side, when you're around, they're happy to see you and demonstrate affection in this manner.

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9

Accounting for the past

Young Woman Taking Care Of Her Puppy At Home Oscar Wong / Getty Imaged

Adopting a dog isn't always a straightforward process. You might have an initial connection, and you'll have to keep it at the forefront of your mind when you realize that your dog has baggage. Many dogs come from backgrounds where they weren't treated well by their humans, and you'll have to work hard to build trust. You might have a rocky start, and your rescue may respond better to others initially, but you can become its favorite human with time.

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10

Continued socialization

Happy man outdoors with his dog Goxy89 / Getty Images

Dogs are constantly learning and reinforcing what they know through continued interaction with the people in their life. You can deepen your bond with your fur baby by spending at least half an hour of one-on-one time with it every day, excluding exercise sessions outside. Groom it, make meaningful eye contact, or simply play without interruption. The more you chill out together, take naps, and enjoy each other's company, the more you'll be treated like family. Dogs love humans who take their likes and dislikes into consideration. And remember, kids are often excited to see their cousins and aunts and ignore their parents during visits, but it's their parents they ultimately need. Similarly, you provide a stable foundation for your dog.

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