Just like humans, dogs will often pick and choose who they like and who they don’t, and often there isn’t much one can do about it. However, there are ways to help your dog at least cooperate with and tolerate other dogs of various ages and breeds.
Socialization in the dog world is a complex process that is often misinterpreted as bad or unusual behavior when your dog doesn’t like someone else’s. Understand that older dogs will normally be less willing to get along with others due to the fact that they are past their “sensitive period” — a stage in life between 3 and 20 weeks where puppies respond well to social interaction.
Adult dogs who have trouble socializing with other dogs will usually express the following behaviors when in the presence of other canines:
- Stiff body
- Averted eyes or head
- Licking their lips
- Growling or barking
- Staying close to their human family
- Ears flattened
- Neck hair raised
If your canine companion expresses any of these signs, here are a few ways to remedy the anti-social situation.
- Find a friendly dog. Perhaps you have a few friends or neighbors you know of who has a genuinely calm and friendly dog. Slowly introduce your dog to this potential friend. One way would be to introduce a blanket or toy the other dog has used to your dog — that way they will become accustomed to their scent.
- Keep a neutral meeting ground. When you decide it’s time for your dog to meet that other friendly dog, be sure they are introduced in a neutral setting, such as on a walk through the neighborhood. Try to avoid introducing the two in one or the other’s own territory (yard, home, etc.) as this can cause tension and disputes.
- Take a walk together. A couple days after the initial meet and greet, have the dogs head out for a stroll together. Keep the dogs on loose leashes and start at a manageable distance from each other. Eventually start bringing the dogs closer together so that by the end of the walk they will be strolling side by side.
Always be sure to reward your dog for good behavior! Unfortunately, not all dogs may respond well to these simple tips and tricks, so it could be a good option to sign up for private dog training lessons or smaller group sessions. If you have a puppy, doggie daycare is a great way to get your young canine comfortable with other dogs.