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Dog Bonding: Has Your Dog Imprinted on You? Here’s How to Tell

By Aviram K.
October 11, 2022
4 min read
Dog Bonding: Has Your Dog Imprinted on You? Here’s How to Tell
✏️ This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

You love your dog and your dog loves you. But do you ever get the feeling that your dog like really, really loves you? Perhaps a little more than usual?

Maybe it’s in the little things: the way they look at you or how they’re always glued to your side. It sounds crazy, but you swear they even know what you’re thinking and when you’re feeling sad.

Well, turns out it’s actually not so crazy at all!

If your dog seems especially attached and attuned to you, they may have imprinted on you.

Wait, what in the world does that mean?

When a dog imprints on a human, they are bonded with that person and see them as their actual parent. This generally happens to puppies at 7-10 weeks. Some signs your pup has imprinted on you include mirroring you, knowing your feelings, and seeking affection.

In this article, I will explain what it means when a dog is imprinted and whether dogs can actually imprint on people. I also will reveal how long it takes for a dog to imprint and wrap things up by giving you the signs to tell if your dog has imprinted on you.

So, that extra special bond you feel with your pup may not be all in your head after all.

If you sense that your pup knows you like no one else does, they very well may have imprinted on you!

This may sound a little strange and intense, but it’s totally normal.

Join me as I explain this intriguing phenomenon.

Let’s go!

Table of Contents
01
What Does It Mean When a Dog Is Imprinted?
02
Can Dogs Imprint on People?
03
How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Imprint?
04
How to Tell If Your Dog Has Imprinted on You
05
Imprints of Love

What Does It Mean When a Dog Is Imprinted?

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Imprinting, most technically referred to as familial imprinting, is when an animal bonds with an animal outside their own species so much that they feel they are their actual parent.

Imprinting can also take place when animals bond with and mimic the behavior of their natural birth mother. An animal may imprint on the first being they ever lay their eyes on, whether it’s their biological mother or not.

When a dog is imprinted, they feel a deep and powerful connection to the object of their affection. They may view the subject they have imprinted on as their provider, protector, authority, and best friend all rolled into one!

Can Dogs Imprint on People?

Since dogs generally imprint on those who they see as their caretakers, you probably won’t find it surprising at all that-yes, dogs can imprint on people!

The relational archetype of dogs being dependent and humans being their nurturers creates a perfect dynamic for imprinting to occur.

Dogs can imprint on multiple people, but there will typically be one person a dog bonds with the most. This usually comes down to who devotes the most quality, consistent time, and attention to the pup.

How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Imprint?

There are different types of imprinting that dogs undergo. Each specific imprinting occurs at a certain point in your puppy’s development.

Let’s take a look at the types and stages of dog imprinting:

  • Canine imprinting takes place at 3-7 weeks of age and is when puppies learn how to be a dog from their doggy mommy and littermates.
  • Human imprinting happens around 7-10 weeks of age. It is when dogs develop their social skills and are likely to imprint on a human caretaker.
  • Fear imprinting happens at about 8-10 weeks. It is a delicate time when anything that traumatizes your pup may be locked in as a lifelong phobia.

How to Tell If Your Dog Has Imprinted on You

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There are many tell-tale signs that your dog has imprinted on you.

If you’re wondering if your pup has imprinted on you, see if they do any of the following:

They Listen to You

When you give your pup a command, they comply. When you tell them to sit, they sit. When you tell them to stay, they stay.

If your pup does what you say, they likely see you as the leader of their pack. They love, value, and respect you and are probably imprinted on you.

Your Dog Is Comfortable Around You

If your pup seems totally at ease in your presence, there’s a good chance they’ve imprinted on you. Relaxed body posture, openness to lay on their back with their belly exposed, along with loving eye contact are all signs that your pup feels this level of coziness with you.

They Know When You’re Feeling Down

Your pup has likely imprinted on you if they seem to have a finger on the pulse of your emotions.

You had a bad day? Your pup is right there being extra affectionate…it’s like they just know.

This is because dogs can read your emotions based on the tones and nuances in your voice alone.

Wow!

They Mirror You

Is your pup basically your shadow? Or your twin?

When your pup is following you and copying your movements and even some of the simple daily tasks you perform, they have probably imprinted on you.

Your Pup Is Excited to See You

A dog who greets you at the door with a wagging tail and big wet puppy kisses is a dog that is likely imprinted on you.

They Seek Your Affection

If your dog can’t get enough of your belly rubs, scratches behind the ears, and loving pats, they may be imprinted on you.

Imprints of Love

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The mechanics of a dog imprinting on a human make sense but are also gloriously mysterious.

It’s partially about survival: a dog will likely imprint on who feeds them and spends the most quality time with them.

But it’s also got a lot to do with the intangible bond that makes a dog “man’s best friend.” The instinctual feelings of love, trust, and joy that also trigger imprinting are so simple and beautiful.

If you’re still wondering if your pup has imprinted on you, just take a good look at their actions: do they listen to you, seek your affection, mirror you, and even know just how you’re feeling?

If you find yourself smiling and nodding, it’s pretty safe to say your furry best friend has imprinted on you!


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Bonding
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