Is your dog entirely fixated on you, or does it show undivided attention towards you? Does it actively seek your guidance over other family members? These behaviours suggest that your dog has imprinted on you. If you’re unsure about what “imprinted” means in the context of your relationship with your dog, it refers to a unique form of rapid and age-dependent learning closely associated with precocial species. During imprint periods, specific developmental stages are clearly defined, and if this critical period is missed, the associated learning won’t take place.
Dogs belong to the same altricial species as cats and humans; unlike precocial species, dogs don’t imprint in the same manner. However, they do experience sensitive periods during which their brains are highly receptive to learning about those around them. Recognizing the signs your dog imprinted on you can make things easier for you and your furry companion.
Understanding Imprinting: Recognizing the Signs of Your Dog’s Imprint on You
Dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend, and indeed for good reasons. These loyal creatures have an incredible ability to form deep emotional connections with their human counterparts. One fascinating aspect of this bond is the concept of imprinting, a process where a dog forms a strong attachment to a specific individual. A dog’s imprinting means it has trusted its owner, developed a solid and loving adoration, and continues learning about the world with its owner’s guidance. It is a social attachment between an animal and a parental object, creating a bond that helps the animal survive and grow. In this article, we will explore seven signs that indicate your dog has imprinted on you, deepening the bond between you and your furry friend.
1. Does your dog give you constant attention and affection?
One of the most evident and heartwarming signs that your dog has imprinted on you is the remarkable display of their unwavering attention and affection. It is as if they have woven an invisible thread of love that binds them to you, and their actions speak volumes about the depth of their attachment. From the moment you step foot into the house, they eagerly seek your presence, their paws pitter-pattering behind you, faithfully following your every move. In your absence, they might even get anxious and await your return. When a dog has imprinted on their owner, it can seem like the embodiment of affection itself. Their desire for physical contact will be evident in the constant need for cuddles, belly rubs, and close proximity. Their warm, velvety nose nuzzling against your hand or their gentle head resting on your lap are tender gestures that speak volumes about their emotional connection.
2. Your dog experiences severe separation anxiety
If your dog experiences separation anxiety when you’re away, it’s a strong indicator that they have imprinted on you. They might show signs of distress when you are not physically with them. They might be known to bark excessively when you are not around and might exhibit destructive behaviour. They might even soil the house in your absence. All of this stems from their deep attachment to you. This kind of behaviour is shown as a result of the struggle to cope with their primary caregiver’s loss, albeit temporarily. So if you are interested in knowing the signs your dog imprinted on you or not, you might want to ask other people who are around your dog about your dog’s behaviour when you are away.
3. Your dog exhibits protective behaviour towards you
Dogs that have imprinted on their owners often exhibit protective behaviour. They perceive themselves as guardians of their humans, ready to defend them at any cost. When someone approaches you with unfamiliar or threatening intentions, an imprinted dog may growl, bark aggressively, or position itself between you and the potential threat. This protective instinct clearly indicates their strong emotional bond with you. However, it is essential to note that dogs exhibit aggressive behaviour when not adequately exposed to people. This behaviour might be confused with the protective instinct of a dog that has imprinted on you. So, make sure that your dog has appropriately familiarized themselves with people being around people before jumping to the conclusion that they have imprinted on you.
4. Does your dog mirror your emotions?
Have you noticed that your dog seems to mirror your emotions? Dogs that have imprinted on their owners are highly attuned to their human emotional state. Dogs are experts in noticing your expressions and how they change. Their advanced olfactory systems also help them to detect pheromones triggered by different human emotions. If you’re feeling sad, they will pick up on it and will offer comforting gestures, such as placing their head on your lap or curling up beside you. Likewise, they’ll often display an exuberant and joyful demeanour when you’re happy. They may even mirror the stress you are feeling. This mirroring of emotions showcases their deep emotional connection and their ability to empathize with you. It is very similar to how toddlers look to their parents on how to react emotionally.
5. Your Dog exhibits a clear preference for your company over others
When a dog has imprinted on you, they clearly prefer your company over others. This is not to say that they will be completely uninterested in spending time with the rest of your family and friends. They may still interact with other family members or even enjoy the presence of other animals, yet they will consider your company their top priority. Imprinted dogs often choose to stay close to you, snuggle up beside you, and follow you from room to room. They value your companionship above all else and find solace and security in your presence.
6. Does your dog seeks your approval and guidance?
Another sign of imprinting is your dog’s strong desire for your approval and guidance. They look to you as their leader and source of direction. You are the one that they look towards to provide validation for their action. They often glance at you for cues or react to your facial expressions. Dogs imprinted on their owners are highly responsive to commands and training, as they are motivated by a desire to please and gain your recognition. They also trust you to make the right decisions.
7. Your dog is eager to share activities with you.
Imprinted dogs are not content with just being in your presence; they also want to engage with you actively. They exhibit a strong desire to share activities and experiences. Whether it’s going for a walk, playing fetch, or simply sitting outside enjoying the fresh air, they relish these shared moments. When you suggest an activity, their excitement and enthusiasm highlight their deep emotional investment in your relationship. This behaviour might also just come across as your dog being needy, but try to see the endearing love they have for you that powers this kind of behaviour.
The bond between a dog and its human companion is unique and special. Imprinting is a natural process that strengthens this bond, creating a profound attachment between you and your four-legged friend. By recognizing the signs your dog imprinted on you, you can better understand and appreciate the depth of their devotion. Remember to reciprocate their love and loyalty by giving them the care, attention, and companionship they crave. Cherish the remarkable bond you share with your imprinted dog, as it is truly one of life’s greatest treasures.
Also Read: Buying pets for kids can be a big challenge. There are quite a few factors one must consider before agreeing to buy a pet for the family.