Small white terrier jumping on a young woman sitting on the couch who is his favorite person

How Dogs Choose Their Favorite Person

Dogs are very social beings and form strong relationships with their favorite friends and caregivers. Although family pets establish relationships with the whole family, they typically have a favorite person they prefer to hang out with.

Dogs choose their favorite person based on who spends the most time with them, plays with them, provides their care, offers affection, and creates positive associations. Additionally, a dog’s breed, personality, and early-life socialization with humans can impact whom they choose to bond with.

Keep reading to learn more about how dogs are attracted to their favorite person and what that might look like.

How Dogs Choose Their Favorite Person is Tied to What Dogs Value

We may believe that dogs mostly care about food and that whoever feeds them will become their best new friend. However, that is only part of what draws our dogs to us as their special person. Dogs do care about food, but they also care about other things. They are social animals who crave companionship, love, warmth, playtime, and fun activities. How a dog chooses his favorite person usually depends on who provides most of your dog’s essential needs and wants.

Hungry Yellow Lab holding his empty bowl hoping for a refill!

Surprisingly, the family member who feeds their pup each day may not always be their favorite person. Although a dog may appreciate Mom or Dad for filling his bowl twice a day, he may have a greater bond with one of the kids. He may chase after the one who plays fetch with him each day or takes him on fun outings. Or, if he is a lap dog, Grandma may be his favorite because she snuggles with him and smothers him with kisses, pets, and tummy rubs.

Here are the things dogs seem to value the most when choosing their favorite person:

  • Feeding and daily care
  • Positive attention
  • Playing together
  • Affection, being petted, and snuggling
  • Positive associations
  • Fun activites

Dogs get very lonely if ignored and cannot interact with their human pack family. Once their basic needs for food and a safe place to sleep are met, dogs will want to socialize and and do something fun. For more about this, please see my post, How to Bond with Your Rescue Dog.

If you have walked through a shelter, you will probably recall how eager the dogs were to greet you as you walked by. Even when multiple dogs are together in a kennel, they will all run to the front and stick their noses through the bars to connect with anyone walking by.

Early Socialization

Cute little puppy being held up in the air by owner so he can't bite

How dogs are socialized with humans as puppies can have an impact on who they choose as their favorite person when they grow up. If they were exposed to at least a handful of people during their first 12 weeks of life, they will probably be able to attach to various people as they mature.

However, if during those formative first few weeks they had negative associations with harsh handlers or someone who scared them, they may be more stand-offish of certain types of people. The way someone dresses or speaks may remind them of those early days.

Those early memories may influence a pup about who they may choose to trust and bond with. This can change over time as a dog matures, has new experiences, and develops new associations.

How Breed Can Play a Role in Who a Dog Attaches To

Blue Heeler sits for his owner in park

Some breeds such as Pugs, Golden Retrievers, Labs, and Beagles just seem to love everybody. They run up to everyone for a pat on the head and some joyful attention indiscrimminately. Therefore, these dogs may actually have more than one favorite person they attach to and want to spend time with.

But other dogs such as German Shepherds, Cattle Dogs, Australian Shepherds, or Greyounds tend to bond primarily with one person. These are working dogs who were bred to focus on their master to get their marching orders and do their job. Their primary handler is also the one they will work and spend most of their time with. Early breeding of working dogs included the selection of dogs who were both independent yet loyal to their owner.

I have two dogs who are both Pug and Cattle Dog mixed breeds from the same litter. Georgia has more Pug-like qualities and seems to love everyone. But Charlotte has the reserve of a Cattle Dog and is very stand-offish toward strangers. When I first adopted them, it took Charlotte a little longer to attach to me than Georgia. But now Charlotte is fiercely loyal to me and very protective. Georgia, however, can be easily tempted to leave my side when one of her favorite “Aunties” drops by.


Cartoon drawings of dogs who look like their owners

The personalities of humans and dogs can also factor in how dogs attach to a particular person. A fun-loving Beagle who loves to run and play will seek someone who can match her energy level. Conversely, a Greyhound will enjoy an owner who loves watching Netflix at night on the sofa. Greyhounds enjoy sprinting but are otherwise big couch potatoes who only need a little space or activity.

It is not surprising that when we adopt dogs, we often look for dogs who match our lifestyle and, often, our personalities. My neighbors and their two sweet children are very energetic and active. They hike, bike, swim, and take their kids to educational and fun places. So, when they adopted a puppy, they selected a breed with high energy, curiosity, and a love of running. Their new pup is a great match for them, and I frequently see them all biking and running together in a nearby park.

How Do You Know if You are Your Dog’s Favorite Person?

White dog on floor licking woman

Your Dog Licks You a Lot

Licking is often a sign of affection and is something dogs learn from their mothers and littermates. If you find your dog sitting close to you and licking your hands, feet, and face, you may be her favorite. She is probably trying to groom, taste, and affectionately defer to you.

Velcro Dog

Brown and black dog in bolster bed under desk.
Georgia and Charlotte hanging out under my desk–my Velcro dogs!

Dogs often follow their favorite person around all day. I find this with my two pups. If I go upstairs to my office, they follow me and plop down in their bed under my desk. If I go out to the backyard they run after me and stay until I go back inside. And of course, they always follow me to the kitchen especially when they hear me open the refrigerator!

This is not the same as a dog with separation anxiety which goes way beyond a preference for hanging out with you. Separation anxiety is a serious emotional and behaviorial issue for fearful dogs who cannot tolerate being left alone.

Shelter dogs sometimes develop this type of anxiety due to past trauma and the uncertainty of adapting to a new home. But with some help, they can overcome their fears and adapt. Learn more about this in my article about my dogs’ separation anxiety and how I dealt with it.

I have noticed that both of my dogs are now a little more independent than when I adopted them four years ago from the shelter. They still follow me around a lot, but they don’t always have to be in the same room with me anymore.

You Are the One Your Dog Wants to Sleep With

Cute brown chihuahua sleeping with little girl

Dogs love to sleep in piles with the ones they are closest to. They did this as part of a litter when they were pups. Of course, this also depends upon who in your household might allow them to jump into their bed! But given the option, dogs will usually jump into the bed of their favorite person. See more in my post about 9 factors impacting who dogs choose to sleep with.

She Brings You Her Favorite Toy

You may find your dog frequently bringing her favorite toy to you as a kind of sweet offering! She has brought you something special and wants to share it with you! Dogs also know who is most likely to play with them and bringing that person a toy is a good indicator of who is high on their list of special people.

Sustained Eye Contact

Small brown dog recovered after tooth extraction
Gia’s soulful eyes elicit feelings of happiness and love. Photo by Judy Swayne

When your dog stares at you for long periods, she is focused on you and what you might do next. She may be watching you while you read or work, hoping you may soon turn and pay attention to her. Scientific studies have demonstrated that when owners and dogs gaze into each other’s eyes, it raises both of their “love” hormone levels, otherwise known as oxytocin.

Your Dog Wiggles, Wags, Whimpers, and Does Zoomies When You Enter the Room

Your dog’s level of excitement when you walk into a room or through the front door is also a good indicator that you are your dog’s favorite person. Whenever I come home after a short absence, my dogs zip around the house, wag their tails, and wiggle their entire bodies with glee. They usually have toys in their mouths and are ready to play!

Of course, some of this might be because they are glad you or anyone in the family has just come home. But you may notice this happening more with one particular family member. If so, that is a good indicator of their favorite person.

Final Thoughts

A dog’s favorite person is the one who provides loving attention, primary care, positive associations, and spends time hanging out and playing with him. As with us, dogs want to be seen, treated well, and interacted with in loving, kind, and fun ways.

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