3 Signs Your Dog Imprinted On You & Thinks You’re Their Whole World

Is your dog your shadow? Do you ever feel like your dog spends more time looking at you and observing your movements than playing by themself or focusing on other members of your family? Does it feel like your dog chose you, and prefers you over other humans and dogs? These could all be signs your dog has imprinted on you…sort of. 

Signs Your Dog Imprinted On You

In this quick guide, we’ll go over what imprinting is, whether or not dogs imprint on humans, and some signs to look for to know that your dog has chosen you as their person. 

What Is Imprinting? 

Imprinting occurs during an early developmental socialization period in many animals, and results in a strong bond between the young animal and typically a parent or other adult animal of the same species. During the stages of imprinting, the young animal goes through a rapid phase of learning and acquiring new skills to help them survive and fulfill their natural niche. 

As they identify an adult to observe and learn from, the young animal will also begin to follow their imprinted adult closely, doing everything they do. Not only will they socialize and mimic the behaviors of their imprinted adult, but young imprinted animals will also use this time to learn how to identify a good source of food, shelter, water, etc. 

Signs Your Dog Imprinted On You

Most common in precocial species like ducks, geese, horses, etc.—which are born with open eyes, fur, and the ability to walk—imprinting is basically the process by which these young animals learn. 

In some cases, young animals in the care of humans can imprint on humans, developing strong bonds with their caretakers and sometimes even showing a preference for their human over other individuals of the same species. However, the imprinting phase is developmentally dependent, and older animals don’t go through this same process as they already have the necessary skills for their survival. 

Werewolves DO Imprint On Humans (If only they were real)

Animals imprinting on humans was made popular in the “Twilight” book series by Stephenie Meyer. An intriguing aspect of their supernatural world is the concept of imprinting, which is unique to the werewolves of the story. The most notable instance of werewolf imprinting in the book involves Jacob Black, a young werewolf, who imprints on Renesmee Cullen, the daughter of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen.

Unlike regular dogs or even humans, werewolves imprint on a specific person, forming an unbreakable bond and deep connection that goes beyond mere affection or loyalty. This phenomenon is portrayed as a powerful, mystical process that determines the werewolf’s closest companion, protector, or partner for life. Imprinting is not a choice but an instinctual, magical event that ties the werewolf to their imprinted individual in a way that is profound and all-encompassing, showcasing a unique inter-species bond that exists only in the realm of Meyer’s imaginative world.

Do Dogs Imprint On Humans? 

Dogs aren’t a precocial species and they’re not werewolves, but do dogs imprint anyway? Short answer: no. 

Dogs don’t technically imprint, but they do go through important psychological learning phases that can create lasting bonds between the dog and other individuals. For example, around 7–12 weeks of age, puppies enter a social phase where they no longer rely so heavily on their mothers, and can begin to form bonds with other dogs and humans. 

Signs Your Dog Imprinted On You

While these social development stages are important, the more significant type of dog imprinting is fear imprinting. The first fear period occurs between 8–11 weeks old, while the second fear period occurs between 6–14 months old. 

What Are Dog Fear Periods? 

Sometimes called “fear imprinting stages,” dog fear periods are marked by two significant stages of psychological development within the first 1.5 years of life. Ironically, the first fear imprinting stage also overlaps with the “human imprinting stage,” or the first stage when puppies should be introduced to humans. 

During a fear period, dogs are learning what is safe and what isn’t, and going through neurological changes that can also affect their behavior. If a dog has a negative experience during one of their fear periods, they can “imprint” the memory and develop a long-held fear or reactivity towards that negative stimulus. This negative association can be incredibly strong, and puppy owners should be prepared to be a little extra gentle and protective of their dog during these times to avoid creating lasting psychological stress. 

Signs Your Dog Imprinted On You

3 Signs You’re Your Dog’s Favorite Person

So, no, your dog probably hasn’t imprinted on you, but they might have chosen you to be their person! Some dogs are super social and love absolutely everyone—literally, everyone is their best friend. Other dogs are a little more reserved, and while they might be friendly, they’ll choose one human in particular as their number one. Pet parents, here are a few signs that your dog thinks you’re the best human ever! 

1. Your Dog Makes Lots of Eye Contact With You

Signs Your Dog Imprinted On You

Dogs use eye contact very intentionally. Mostly using body language and sense of smell to communicate with one another, dogs rarely make eye contact with each other, and typically only in high-energy situations like a scuffle or during play. When it comes to humans, dogs know to look at our faces as part of communication, but they aren’t always comfortable making eye contact with us, and it can even be seen as a challenge. 

So, if your dog is constantly gazing at you, meeting your eyes, and making eye contact while you snuggle, play, train, or go for walks, that’s your dog showing that they trust you. 

2. Your Dog Follows You Everywhere

Signs Your Dog Imprinted On You

If you can’t even get up to go to the bathroom without your pup following you, you can be certain your dog loves you a whole lot! Whether your dog gets up because they want to be with you at all times, or because they’re curious about what you’re doing, this is a great sign that your dog feels safest with you. 

3. Your Dog Brings You “Gifts”

Signs Your Dog Imprinted On You

Does your dog ever come running to you to show you something they stole from the counter, or a pair of underwear they took from the laundry basket? Does your dog prefer to eat their treats or chews in the same room as you? Have you ever noticed that your dog picks something up and brings it to the door when you come home? 

All of these are signs that your dog is super happy to see you, and wants to share their excitement with you! 

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