Dog friends play together, enjoy each other and support each other. Is this true? And does every dog need contact with conspecifics to be happy?
Does my dog need dog contact?
The answer is quite simple: if he wants it, yes. But there are enough dogs that value the (close) contact with conspecifics less or even reject it completely. This can have different reasons, more about this later.
To find out if your darling really likes to have other dogs near him, you have to be able to read the body language exactly. Often, unfortunately, behaviors are misinterpreted and dog contact is forced.
Dogs are social creatures, but nowadays the most important social partner for most dogs is the human, i.e. you. Sure, there are street dogs that group together to have better chances of survival, but our domestic dogs are mostly related to their caregiver. So you don’t have to have a bad conscience if your dog doesn’t have contact with conspecifics every day. On the contrary, in most cases contact with many strange dogs is even counterproductive.
But you are not a dog and therefore cannot fulfill all needs. Therefore, it would be ideal if your darling has a few selected dog friends with whom you meet regularly. Your dog can assess these buddies well, knows their preferences and relationships can develop.
Different types of dogs need different dog contacts.
Group: If your pet has lived in a (harmonious) dog group, dog contact is probably still important to him. Some even feel more comfortable in multi-dog households. If your darling behaves in the presence of other dogs more courageous, safer, blossoms downright and shows increased exploratory behavior, he could be the type of dog group. Some dog breeds also like to live together in groups, such as pack dogs, sled dogs or guard dogs.
Loner: In contrast, there are dogs that have had little to no experience with conspecifics in their lives or even had negative experiences with other dogs. In the beginning, these dogs usually show fearful behavior, are shy and reserved in the presence of conspecifics. This can also develop into defensive behavior or aggression towards the other dogs. In this case it is important to avoid dog contact for the meantime and to train them positively again. This is best done with a qualified dog trainer.
Playful: Most dogs are very playful when they are puppies, because they learn various behaviors through playing. But as they get older, the play partners become fewer and fewer. The dogs then play only with selected dog friends or some not at all. But there are dogs that are playful until old age. These need then regularly the possibility with other dogs, which likewise this kind of the contact would like, to interact. Otherwise they can quickly become frustrated and rough. But equally, the playful type of dog needs to learn that just not all other dogs want to play.
Cool: If your dog has learned good social behavior, most adult dogs are “cool” with other dogs. Depending on the sympathy they find some dogs great and even make the one or other dog friendship, but most conspecifics are simply accepted or ignored. This type of dog should not be pushed to constant dog contacts, better meet with dog friends and otherwise keep a friendly distance.
What are dog friends good for?
In contact with conspecifics dogs learn the fine language and expressive behavior. They learn to judge other dogs better and better and to react adequately. The point is not to have many friends, but to have good ones in order to form deeper relationships. This social behavior is also important in play. Because real dog play only takes place when everyone feels safe.
How to find dog friends?
It is important to choose dog friends according to the taste of your pet. Of course it is nice if you get along well with the owners, but this should not be the priority. The dogs should match each other.
– Body size should be approximately matched. Read more about this here.
– Similar interests (same play style, exploring together, etc.).
– Age matched. Senior dogs, for example, are often annoyed by puppies and also have other preferences.
– Give time and slowly get to know each other. Preferably in a large meadow, where there is enough space to avoid each other and discover everything together.
Tip: Also pay attention to whether the dog is dealt with in a friendly manner. If he is yelled at or otherwise treated roughly, this is probably not a good interaction for you.
How can I tell if dogs like each other?
– Soft, relaxed movements
– Body language of the other dog is understood and respected
– Sniffing and exploring together
– Walking and urinating together
– Contact lying
– Mutual grooming
– Play sessions
– Being able to relax next to each other
How can I tell that dogs don’t like each other?
– Stiff movements
– Fearful/insecure body language
– Contact is avoided
– Want to chase other dog away
– Frequent threatening and aggressive behavior
– Do not come to rest next to each other
Why doesn’t my dog like other dogs?
– Bad experiences made
– Many dog contacts were forced
– Too afraid, insecure
– Does not feel comfortable in the environment and has no capacity for contact at all
– Health problems, such as pain
– and many more.
Sometimes it is better to have a good dog friend than to meet dogs every day that cause stress. Don’t force your dog to have dog contacts, even if it is well-intentioned. Most dogs like to have contact with known dogs that they like, but do not appreciate frequent contact with strange dogs at all.