Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

How Do Dogs Choose Their Canine Friends?

Can all dogs be friends?

Have you ever seen your dog seem to quickly make friends with some dogs but appearing to dislike others and wondered how dogs decide their friends?

Not All Dogs Like Each Other

Dogs all have different personalities, and that extends into their decisions about which other dogs they like to play with or avoid.

Some dogs dislike all other dogs, and there are a few who seem to love any canine pal they come across. But, in general, most dogs are like most people and they like some other dogs and not others.

How Do Dogs Choose Who They Like?

Dogs give each other a lot of information through body language and scents. Much of that isn't noticeable to humans. So, even from a distance, another dog could "tell" your dog something about herself that your dog doesn't like. That might have to do with the other dog's aggressive or dominant personality compared to your dog's or something else entirely.

Also, if your dog has had a previous negative experience with a similar dog, she might project that onto new dogs. For example, if a male German shepherd once attacked your pup, she may try to avoid all German shepherds after that.

Sometimes, your dog reacts a certain way to another dog because of the presence of their owner. Your dog may feel protective of you and doesn't want you near the other dog for some reason. It could be because of the other dog's signals or just pure jealousy on the part of your dog.

What If My Dog Is Aggressive?

If your dog is aggressive toward other dogs or acts especially fearful around most of them, you should consider visiting a canine behavior specialist for help because it could negatively affect your or your dog's quality of life.

When you get a new puppy, you can help her develop positive associations with other dogs and encourage her to like more dogs than she dislikes by being sure to get her well-socialized. That means exposing her to a big variety of situations and other dogs if it's safe to do so. Be sure to ask your vet if your pup is ready for exposure to other dogs (usually once their vaccine series is completed). Doing this helps build your dog's confidence, so they're more likely to approach new situations and dogs easily.

Additionally, spending time training your dog can help her build confidence and strengthen the bond between the two of you. That's an additional way to help your dog with overall self-confidence that can help her get along well with other dogs.

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