A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

7 Secrets to Becoming Every Dog’s Favorite Human

Updated: Jan. 06, 2023

Not that it's a competition. (OK—it kind of is.)


It’s in his blood

While most dogs love and bond with every member of the family, there’s often one person they’re especially drawn to. And in some breeds, that draw tends to be stronger than in others, says Nicole Ellis, pet lifestyle expert at Rover.com. For example, grey hounds, Shiba Inus, Cairn terriers, and Basenjis often bond strongly with one person, while Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, poodles, and beagles like to spread the love more equally.


It’s how she was raised

The way your dog was socialized as a pup can impact the people she’s drawn to later in life. For example, if your dog was exposed primarily to women during her key socialization period (the first four months of her life), she might bond more closely with the women in the family. But that doesn’t mean you’re in trouble if you got your dog later in life, Ellis assures. “Socialize them as soon as you can and keep things positive with treats and praise,” she says. These are the first things to train your puppy.


You’re kindred spirits

Just as people tend to choose friends who match their personality and energy levels, dogs often choose their favorite person based on the same criteria. “A mellow dog will bond more closely with the low-key family member than the person running around the house,” says Ellis. If you find yourself more active than your dog, try resting with him for at least a half-hour a day. Slow your breathing and relax your energy to match his—he’ll appreciate the effort. This is how to determine your dog’s energy level.


You try new things together

No matter what your dog’s energy level, she’ll love trying new things with you. Plus, it’ll help the two of you bond and secure your spot in her heart. For high energy dogs, try something like agility courses, hikes, and swims. For older or mellow dogs, try scent tracking, Kong toys, or puzzle games. Training is a great way to bond with dogs of every age and energy level—keep it short (say 15 minutes) and don’t forget the treats! Here are some dog-friendly national parks to explore with your pup.


You take time to do what he likes

Now that you and your pup have tried a bunch of new activities together, make a list of a few of his favorites and do those things more often. “The more positive interactions you have with your dog, the more he’ll associate you with positivity,” says Ellis. “So maybe that means you’re the chin-scratcher or the tennis-ball thrower—dogs tend to bond with the person who’s giving them the most attention.” These are the things your veterinarian wishes you knew.


You make bad (but necessary) experiences better

If you’re nervous that the baths you give your dog (the ones he totally hates!) will negate all of your positive interactions, don’t be. “Is your dog going to hate you for taking him to the vet once a year? No,” says Ellis. “But something you’re doing every day, such as an injection he needs? Maybe make it fun.” Ellis recommends doing that by adding treats, massages, and love to the mix.


You’re the hand that feeds and pets her

It might seem like a last-ditch effort to become your pet’s favorite, but being the family member who feeds the dog will definitely win you brownie points. “You could be the person who makes the food,” say Ellis, “or do something fun like bake dog cookies, so your dog associates you with the treats and the process.” Brushing, petting, and belly rubs are other simple ways to make your dog feel loved. This is the ultimate new puppy checklist for what you need to buy for your new dog.