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Do dogs pick a favorite human?

Dogs form strong bonds with their human families. As social animals, dogs thrive when they have loving relationships with the humans in their lives. It’s common for dogs to show preferences for certain people, often having a particularly close connection with one person. So do dogs actually pick favorite humans? Let’s explore what science and experts have to say.

Do dogs have a favorite person?

Research suggests that dogs can and do prefer certain people over others. Studies using behavior tests show dogs tend to interact more with people they are familiar with over strangers. And dogs get more excited to see their guardians after being separated compared to unfamiliar people.

Experts agree that dogs can definitely have a favorite person who they feel closest to and most bonded with. Dr. Mary Burch, a certified applied animal behaviorist, notes that dogs will often follow one family member around more than others. They may also cuddle, seek attention and show more affection toward their chosen favorite human.

How do dogs pick their favorite person?

Dogs don’t choose favorites arbitrarily. There are some key factors that determine who a dog bonds most closely with:

  • Who spends the most time with the dog
  • Who feeds, grooms and cares for the dog’s needs
  • Who gives the dog the most love and positive attention
  • Who gives the dog the most exercise, play and stimulation
  • Who trains and reinforces the dog’s good behaviors

The human who satisfies the dog’s needs and forms a close bond through daily routines and activities is most likely to become the dog’s favorite. Dogs are drawn to people they associate with pleasure, fun and security.

Signs your dog has picked you as their favorite

How can you tell if your pooch prefers you over others? Here are some common signs you may be your dog’s chosen favorite human:

  • Gets more excited to see you after an absence
  • Follows you around the house from room to room
  • Brings you their favorite toy or bone to play
  • Comes to you first for affection and petting
  • Wants to sleep next to you – or even in your bed
  • Makes good eye contact with you and holds your gaze
  • Leans their body against your legs or lays their head in your lap
  • Gets protective or defensive if they sense you are troubled

Of course, every dog has their own unique personality. But if your pooch displays many of these behaviors with you, it’s likely you’re their top human!

What if you’re not the favorite?

It’s completely natural for dogs to bond more strongly with one person. So if your dog seems to have a closer connection with your spouse, child, roommate etc., there’s no need to be offended or jealous!

Instead, look at why that person has become the dog’s favorite. Spend more positive one-on-one time together through walks, play, grooming and training. Feed, exercise and care for the dog’s needs more consistently. Shower your dog with praise and affection. With time and effort, you may find you become the favorite instead.

Can dogs have multiple favorites?

Absolutely! While some dogs have one very clear favorite human, it’s also common for them to have strong bonds with multiple family members. Dogs don’t limit themselves to just loving one person.

Your dog may go to different people depending on what they need. One person for playtime, another for snuggles on the couch, another for midnight potty walks. Different relationships and interactions satisfy the dog in various ways.

As long as everyone shares responsibility for meeting the dog’s needs for care, exercise and quality time, they can all potentially be favorites!

The takeaway

Dogs are capable of picking favored humans based on who cares for them and bonds with them the most. Paying attention to your dog’s behavior can reveal if you’re their top choice. But even if you’re not number one, you can still foster a close relationship by being a consistent, loving presence in their life.

Remember that dogs are master relationship-builders. When you commit to understanding and fulfilling your dog’s needs, you’ll become an important human in their world – favorite or not!


Can dogs be possessive of their favorite person?

It’s possible. Some dogs may show mild protective or possessive behavior like leaning against their person, barking when they show affection to others, or not wanting to share toys or space with their favorite’s other friends or loved ones. This stems from insecurity about their bond. While not a major issue, it helps to work on obedience training and socialization skills.

Do guide and service dogs have favorites?

These highly trained dogs need to be able to work cooperatively with their human handlers as well as strangers. So they are selected and bred for their ability to form attachments but not play obvious favorites. Their relationship is more of a working partnership.

Can favorite humans change over time?

Yes, dogs can switch their preferred favorite as life circumstances change. Major events like a child growing up and leaving home or a new baby arriving can shift the dog’s focus. Health conditions that affect a person’s ability to care for the dog can also cause changes over time. What matters most is that the dog’s needs continue to be met.