Dear Bark: Five months ago I adopted an 18 month old dog from a friend. I house her, give her the best food, and take her for walks every day, and she is much better behaved and less neurotic than with her original owner. However, she is not very affectionate with me, and when her former owner is visiting, she wants to go with him. Sometimes she is even more loving to my friends than to me. It’s very painful and I wonder if that will ever change.
I want you to have the loving relationship with your dog that you want to have. It’s not clear what the barriers are, but there are things you can try to bring about the change you want.
First of all, make sure that nothing you do is harmful to your dog. I suspect that given your great devotion to her, you will not use corporal punishment or harsh words or yell at her, but I would be irresponsible if I did not mention that such things are counterproductive to a loving relationship.
Then, check to see if something is causing harmless behavior in your dog and limiting the growth of your friendship to humans (and most dogs). Sometimes a problem is simple but easy to miss. For example, many dogs don’t like floral and citrus scents. So if you use a perfume, shampoo, or detergent with these scents, they may be less likely to snuggle up to you. It could be related to noise, such as bracelets clinking or clothing fabrics making a rushing noise. Think about any sensory stimulation that might upset you and experiment to see if changes make a difference.