When you bring a puppy home for the first time (and every time thereafter), you have entered into a seriously serious agreement. It is relatable to having a child. Both are wholly dependent on you. Both are trying to decide if they can trust you. Both are weighing their respect for you.
If you are a pet parent that truly feels that your pet is your child, you are actually spot on. Experts agree that the relationship between dogs and their owners is very similar to the bond between parents and their children.
The Secure Base Effect
Dogs and children share what is known as the ‘secure base effect’ which refers to the idea that when human children interact with their environment, they consider their caregivers a secure base. According to psychologists, a secure base is provided through a relationship with one or more individuals who are sensitive and responsive to one’s needs.
Just as human children become reliant on their parents, dogs become reliant on. their owners. Each looks to their ‘parents’ for food, comfort, shelter, and love. Perhaps more importantly, human children and canine ‘children’ both look to their parents to help them solve problems. We as ‘parents’ provide these things willingly, be it to our human children or our furbabies.
In addition to using humans as a social reference point, dogs have been shown to develop attachment bonds with humans. This relationship allows them to interact securely with their environment in the presence of the owner and show less distress in response to threatening events; just like a human child.
When humans help their dogs solve problems, dogs learn to connect, bond, relate, attach to their humans; consequently, securely attached human-dog teams display better problem-solving skills and desirable behaviors. The same is true for human children and their parents.
Trust and Respect
It also appears that dogs, like human children, can learn to respect and trust their ‘parents’ and the guidance they provide. This is one of the most consequential aspects of the bonding experience between parent and child as it encourages the child’s social development. Over time, the relationship becomes one of both love and respect.
Love requires trust and respect. Love also requires time and consistency. Consistent trust and respect will always result in love over time. It is difficult to not love those you can trust and respect.
Love your puppy. Forgive your puppy, but draw the lines of respect. Over time, they will come to understand that they can trust you. They will come to understand that you have their best interest in mind.
And the two of you will find love.