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!