The bond between human and canine is a deep and ancient one. Dogs have been close companions for humans for at least 15,000 years. In modern times, the interactions between humans and dogs continues to be centered around understanding, emotion, dependability, and mutual support.

Dogs are naturally loyal pets, but if you and your dog lack a mutual understanding or crucial communication, sometimes frustrations can occur in the relationship. Wanting to develop deeper bonds with your pet is a natural desire for many pet owners. As you spend time with your canine friend, you can both develop memories that can last a lifetime.

Here are some ways to improve the bond you share with your dog:

A black and white pug dog plays with a bright yellow ball.

1. Obedience training

Training is a great way to bond with your dog. Teaching him or her commands like sit, stay, roll over, or come here allows you to build strong communication and teamwork skills with your canine. It can also foster a sense of purpose and belonging for your beloved pup.

A Siberian Husky swims and splashes in a pool.

2. Play with your dog

Schedule various activities which help you keep an active and playful relationship with your dog. Include retrieving and agility exercises, swimming, and other playful games which can help you and your pet build fun memories.

According to a Live Science report, most dogs are as smart as toddlers and enjoy engaging interactions. Activities that create a sense of excitement and problem-solving exercises can uplift your experiences while creating loyalty and friendship between you and your dog. Add a game of hide-and-seek to the mix. Owners often enjoy playing this game with their dogs because it helps to reinforce loyal bonds.

A small pug dog eating chewing on a bone in the grass.

3. Feed them at specific times

Get in a routine of feeding your dog at specific times. Providing nourishment allows your pet to associate care with your presence. Since food is a basic need and because your dog depends on you for it, this is a simple routine that can help your dog appreciate you. In addition, take the initiative to sustain your dog’s well-being. Aim to provide healthy, tasty food for your dog; they’ll love you even more!

A black dog is covered in soap in water as he sits in a blue bucket.

4. Groom your pet

Direct physical contact with your dog can also help you both build strong connections. Physical touch can build up your dog’s desire for attention and comfort. Likewise, a dog can offer you comfort and emotional support by being a nonjudgmental presence. In fact, studies show that both dogs and people release anti-stress hormones when they come in contact with each other. Those soft and fuzzy feelings you have for each other are no lie!

A dog owner squats down next to his dog to talk to him on a green hill.

5. Talk to your canine

Studies show that canines get excited when their owners speak to them. Some dogs can even learn up to 165  words including hand gestures and emotional signals. Dogs in the top 20% intelligence bracket–like Border collies, Labradors, and German Shepherds– may learn up to 250 words.

If you say “Hello” to your dog when you enter the room, your dog may be able to associate the sound of a commonly-used word or phrase with a certain action or routine. When you come home from a long day be sure to use a gentle voice when interacting with your dog! Show your dog you care with gentle cuddles and a pleasant tone. Try to remain calm so you don’t upset your pup.

Angle looking down at the dog owner with a widebrim purple hat on her head, a book in front of her, while she pets a small white dog on its stomach.

6. Educate yourself on canine behavior

One of the best ways to bond with your dog is to understand their language. Read up on articles and expert advice that helps you identify certain behaviors. If your dog is ever upset or anxious, noticing the behavior can help you protect or calm your dog. When you’re able to demonstrate that you can protect your dog, your bond can grow even stronger.

Once you start spending more time with your dog, you can start to form trust, support, and love. Pretty soon you and your dog may feel inseparable. Plus, you’ll feel more happy, calmer, and enjoy more fun!