Dogs Imprinting on Humans: What You Need to Know
Dogs, like many other animals, can form filial bonds with humans, often known as “imprinting.” In this article, our dog training experts in Jacksonville explain what you need to know about the process of dogs imprinting on humans and how to tell if you’re your dog’s favorite person.
What Exactly Is "Imprinting" for Dogs?
Some baby birds are known to imprint on the first human or animal that they first see upon hatching. Dogs, however, do not imprint in the same way as birds do.
Dogs can imprint, or bond, with their biological mother, humans, and other animals throughout various stages of development.
Dogs imprinting on humans does not occur in a single event. Rather, it is a more flexible process that occurs over time. The term “bonding” is more appropriate to describe this phenomenon, though “imprinting” is also used interchangeably.
How and When Dogs Imprint
For the first seven weeks of life, puppies bond with and learn how to be a dog from their mother and littermates. When it comes to dogs and humans, “imprinting” refers to the bond that dogs form in their human imprinting stage with a particular human.
Your dog comes to know you as a source of food, shelter, and safety. Generally, this stage of imprinting begins between seven to ten weeks of age, when dogs become more receptive to bonding with other species, especially humans.
How to Know if Your Dog Has Imprinted on You
After you adopt a new puppy, you can tell if they’re imprinting on you by noticing your dog’s behaviors.
Dogs demonstrate excitement when they see their favorite human. They show affection and communicate happiness by wagging their tail. They may follow you around, listen to you and your commands, and make eye contact with you.
Your safety also becomes a priority for your canine friend. They may scout your surroundings to make sure you are safe and check in on you regularly throughout the day. Dogs have a strong sense of smell and like to sleep in places that smell comfortable and familiar. If you notice your dog napping on a pile of your laundry instead of their favorite bed, this may be a sign that your dog has a special attachment to you and your scent.
While human relationships are some of the most important relationships for dogs throughout their lives, it is best to allow newborn puppies their time and space to bond with their biological mother and littermates during the first seven weeks, regardless of the dog breed.
Dogs imprinting on humans can take time, especially if the dog has trust or behavioral issues. If you continue to interact with your dog and learn about their past, you can understand their triggers and make sure that they feel relaxed and safe around you. This helps them greatly in their socialization and bonding process.