Developing Attachment: A Bond For Life

Attachment is the deep emotional bond between your puppy and the person who provides most of his care. Just as most parents feel a strong connection with their puppy, puppies also become attached to their parents. Attachment takes place throughout their development, but this post focuses on puppies.

Attachment develops as you respond to your puppy’s needs in warm, sensitive and consistent ways. This is especially important when your puppy is sick, upset or distressed. Attachment also builds as you go about your daily routines with your puppy, caring for her and interacting with her.
A puppy’s first attachment usually happens quite naturally. Your puppy cries and you try to give him what he needs: a feeding, a cuddle or just holding him. When you respond, your puppy learns that he can trust you, and depend on you for comfort and to feel safe. As you get better at knowing what your puppy is telling you and meeting his needs, your puppy feels less stress.

Responding quickly to a puppy’s cries is the best way to show her that she is safe and loved. It should not be confused with “spoiling”. Puppies cannot be spoiled. When they’re sick, upset or distressed, they need to know that you are there for them.

Attachment involves two living beings interacting, sharing, and connecting. So as you respond to your puppy’s needs, your puppy will respond to you. You’ll notice that it becomes easier to soothe her, that she wants to be near you, and that she reacts to you even from a distance. Holding, rocking or talking softly to your puppy all promote attachment.

While a puppy’s first attachment is usually with her mother, the bonds that puppies form with their fathers are just as important. Though puppies form attachment relationships with others who care for them, the bonds with their parents are the most important ones.

Why is attachment important?
Secure or healthy attachment is the foundation that lets your puppy explore the world and have a safe place to come back to. Attachment is the first way that puppies learn to organize their feelings and their actions, by looking to the person who provides them with care and comfort. Attachment is essential to long-term emotional health and a wonderful relationship.

Healthy attachment will help your puppy handle situations as she grows older, such as separating from you (separation anxiety), socializing with other pets and developing self-control. Attachment also helps your puppy learn how to trust other people, so it’s an important part of developing healthy relationships. Most of all, a secure attachment allows your puppy develop into his or her true potential!


  1. I I totally agree with your comment about the puppy bonding with the dad also. Although I will be the main caregiver, I think it's great for my husband and the puppy if they bond too.

  2. Bonding is important, going hand and hand with attachment. When having a newborn, its the same. Mother and father bonding with child.
    As a child gets older the experiences he had as a baby to a child to a teen, to an adult. All started as bonding with your parents. I do think with puppies
    they seem to do the same thing. Bonding with their caregiver, sharing a connection of trust, socializing, development and security to make them be their own personality when growing up. You had some good ideas in this blog, Sally, that was awesome. thank you.

    Tim and Jane Vaughn

  3. This information is great! It's so important for the puppy to have a special bond with their parent! We both look forward to that bond, whether it's stronger with mom or dad, they will most definitely feel safe and secure.

    Joey Cardone and Ashley Hefton

  4. They need to feel safe, secure, and loved, just like a new born child. We as parents have to develop and nurture that special bond with with our new child. Great and very important information, thanks Sally!

    Joe and Ronna Cardone

  5. Definately bonding is so crucial. Every humans/animals need and wants to feel loved, safe, and special. And you are so right bonding is the base that builds confidence, security, and trust. I do like how you referred to bonding as a way for puppy's to organize their feelings and actions. I never thought about it in this way but it is so true. Thank you,

    Denise Vallier

  6. I love the observation "puppies cannot be spoiled." Just like a human baby! I am so excited to put that idea into action with cuddling (of course tempered, somewhat reluctantly, by your other post cautioning that puppies should not be overhandled). Your blog is really thought provoking and provides a great perspective on bow to raise a puppy/baby/angel. Thank you for taking the time. Stephanie Andrus

  7. I remember when I saw my first baby...I cried and cried all the way home like a baby. And the response I got from him was the most amazing feeling in the world. I cannot wait to again cry all the way home like i am crying now after seeing all the pictures of these sweet little things and remembering how amazing that feeling of bonding was. they really make you feel like they are your own.

  8. A bond between a puppy and yourself is so important and is strong. I spend all of my days with my dogs. They follow me everywhere and there's lots of love time and chill time. They are so good for everyone's well being. They bring a special happiness from you. Companions. Can't wait Sally.

  9. Question: You mention that “…a puppy’s first attachment is usually with her mother…” I feel like this could be read in regards to either the puppy’s doggy mother and father, in addition to the human family as well. This is something I feel strongly about either way: the puppy being able to form bonds with his canine family at first, and then being properly weaned in prep for moving on to his human family. I feel like these are important developments that many puppies “on the market” just don’t get in full—in part, why I appreciate your approach so much. In our house, we’ve discussed the importance of other family members (besides myself, even though I’ll be the main caregiver) participating in cares and playtime in order to form bonds with the puppy as well. I can’t wait to form and build a bond with my puppy!
    -CD, Mapleton

  10. Thanks for asking. I was referring to their human Mother that they will attach to. My puppies are weaned at 5 weeks. At that time they are getting teeth. Their Mom refuses to feed them anymore. She automatically pushes them toward independence. That bond is severed by her and the puppy moves on with their development and again bonds to their forever Mommy.



  11. I agree it is very important to build a great bond. Meeting their needs and spending quality time will help secure the bond. It is critical they get off to a good start in life. I can’t wait to begin the bonding process!

    Lisa H. 05/23/18

  12. Larry and I can't wait to bond with our new puppy! As we care for him and his needs the bond will be established! ..AND then, many years of joy, being a family! Sally, we can't wait to bring our Angel Baby home and to begin our journey together! Thank you for sharing such practical information that we can apply and use every day! You're the BEST!!

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  14. Bonding with our puppy will be essential for her development and our relationship to each other ! Can't wait to "spoil" her !