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Can a Dog Bond With Two Different Owners? 

Parents of fur babies often wonder if their pets have a favorite owner, and if you share a pet dog with your partner, you may have questioned this too. 

So, can a dog bond with two different owners?

A dog can bond with two different owners, and given how loving they are, it makes perfect sense that this is the case. The dog’s bond with each owner may vary, but it can absolutely love and bond with two people, sometimes even more.

If you’re a dog parent and wonder which of its parents your pet loves more, you are at the right place; continue reading to figure out how your dog views two of its owners.

Can a Dog Love Two Owners Equally?

If you share your dog with a partner, you may notice that the dog prefers one of you over the other, is attached to one of you more than the other, or spends more time with one of you than the other.

Does that mean your dog doesn’t love you? 

Of course not!

Dogs are extremely loving and social animals with a pack mentality. 

They have a lot of love to give to any and all of their owners.

That being said, dogs tend to have a favorite human with whom they are closer and feel more comfortable around.

While dogs do undoubtedly love both of their owners, their love for them isn’t always equal.

Why Do Dogs Prefer One Owner Over the Other? 

To comprehend why dogs prefer one owner over the other, we need to understand why dogs bond with humans in the first place.

Tens of thousands of years of domestication, training, and evolution turned gray wolves and coyotes into the docile, friendly canine companions we know, love, and adore.

While this evolution has turned dogs into sociable animals, they still don’t know how to differentiate between humans and dogs. 

That means they consider all of their owners to be a part of the pack, of which they choose a favorite.

Several factors contribute to a dog choosing its favorite human. 

These include:

Time Spent Together

When a dog is shared between two owners, it is not uncommon for one of the owners to spend more time with it, catering to its needs, such as walking it, playing catch with it, taking it to the vet, etc.

This is typically due to the other owner having different obligations they must fulfill, giving them less time with their fur baby. 

Considering how dogs have evolved to be sociable animals, the more time you spend with a dog, the greater an attachment it forms with you

As such, it’s no surprise that dogs may form a closer bond with the human with whom they spend more time.

Personality Match

Being mammals, dogs – like humans – have varying temperaments.

Some of them can be couch potatoes, whereas others are incredibly playful. 

Some may be quieter, while others may be more mischievous and happy-go-lucky. 

Some may be more dependent on their owners, whereas others may have more of an independent personality.

These personality traits and temperaments greatly influence your dog’s preference for one owner over another. 

Just like the people in our lives, dogs base their compatibility with their owners depending on their personality traits.

If the temperament of one of the owners aligns better with the dog than the other, then it is likely that the dog will prefer the former over the latter.


Dogs are intelligent animals and know how to associate people with their behavior towards them. 

This means they can differentiate between their owners based on how the owners treat them.

If one of the owners is harsher towards the dog, even when it is for its own good, the probability is that the dog will want to spend more of its time with the more lenient, carefree, easy-going owner.

That is not to say that the dog does not love both owners. 

It simply means it likes spending more time with the owner whose company it prefers and enjoys better.

Emotional Conditions

Dogs are emotional creatures and are, hence, quick to pick up on their owners’ emotions. 

They then form bonds based on the emotional conditions of their owners.

That includes more than just the emotions the owners feel towards them; it also includes their feelings about their surroundings.

On the one hand, if the dog is more empathetic, it will grow closer to the owner that is feeling sad. 

However, if the dog feels more comfortable in a happier environment, it may side with the owner with sunnier emotional conditions.

Of course, that also means the dog’s allegiance can change with time, depending upon its owners’ emotions, irrespective of their previous preferences.


As you probably already know, dogs have highly sensitive noses and an excellent sense of smell.

Every human has a different scent due to pheromones, sweat, eating or drinking habits, etc.

Your dog may prefer the scent of one owner over another, driving it closer to them. 

Conversely, it may be averted to the scent of the other owner and cause it to distance itself from them.

In either case, the dog may prefer one owner over the other solely based on smell, with neither of the owners having any control over it.

And with that you should have an overall understanding of how a dog bonds with different people. 

To continue your exploration with canine socialization, check out my article discussing why your dog doesn’t let strangers pet them. [Why Does Your Dog Not Let Strangers Pet Them?]

How Should You Cope With Being the “Less Loved” Owner?

If you are the owner that your dog doesn’t prefer or seem to love as much as your partner, you may find it disappointing or even heartbreaking.

It may hurt even more if you try your best to love and look after your baby just as much as your partner does, if not more.

However, it’s important to remember that your dog’s preference for its other owner doesn’t have anything to do with your capabilities as an owner. 

And while this is a hard pill to swallow, the best way to deal with this is to accept your dog’s preferences and realize that you are not at fault.

Also, be sure you continue to love your four-legged friend just as much as you always did! 

Final Thoughts

As a dog owner who has a partner co-parenting with them, you may have wondered if your baby loves both of you equally.

The truth is, even though they love all the humans they are associated with, dogs do tend to have a favorite person that they prefer over everyone else.

Various factors affect this decision on the dog’s part, including time spent together, personalities, association, emotional conditions, and smell.