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  • Gemma Johnston

I Want My Dog To Be Social With All Dogs

I have some bad news for you.

You are placing extremely unrealistic expectations upon your dog to be social & friendly with EVERY dog it meets. Even more unrealistic for your dog to play with EVERY dog it meets.

It is far from normal for dogs to socialise in groups or play with every dog. Including greeting every dog you pass on the street.

This stems from too many movies, the Aussie dog park culture (Or as we call it, “Dog fighting rings”) & people telling other people its important to socialise your dog or puppy, without giving them the true definition of socialising a dog & more importantly HOW to CORRECTLY do this.

Note: Dogs playing is NOT socialisation

Why Is This Unrealistic?

Here are some questions for yourself:

1. Do you like everyone you meet or walk past?

2. Do you greet & play with every person you meet or walk past?

3. Think of a person you hate, dislike or some one who treats you poorly, will you ever get along with them no matter how hard you try? How would this make you feel if I were to try & force you to get along with said person? Angry, upset, anxious, fearful, enraged?

If it’s unrealistic for you, why should it be any different for your dog?

More Details

Dog’s coming together from many different house holds is not normal.

If they did & we left them to their own devices, guess what would happen? Certain dogs would eliminate dogs who do not fit into that group by severely injuring them, so they don’t return or by killing them.

Can you see how dogs NOT getting along in large groups or with particular dogs is normal?

We Must Remember Genetics

Dogs were originally bred & designed for a purpose. A purpose many no longer serve, as we stick them on our couches & coddle them.

Some breeds where originally bred for dog fighting, therefore; they have a predisposition to fight with other dogs.

Others were bred with intense prey drive, to aid us in hunting & herding, now they no longer serve that purpose but still possess these innate urges, which leads to maladaptive behaviours.

Causing these dogs to act upon these innate urges in other ways, which can be expressed by herding or hunting other dogs that move fast, mimicking game or stock. Leading to dog reactivity or aggression.

The Truth About Play

Play is for puppies, as they mature you will notice they will play less as they have more important things to do & they don’t want to be harassed & jumped on.

Yes adult dogs will still play but it will generally be more controlled & kept on even playing grounds.

However, if you teach your dog from a young age that every time it see’s a dog, its play time, this puppy like behaviour will transfer into adult hood. Causing the dog to get into a lot of trouble with other mentally mature adult dogs who will not tolerate this bad, immature behaviour.

The other thing you are teaching your dog by letting them play with a dog every time they see it, is to them be out of control & to never focus on you. This means when you ask your dog to do something like sit, down, recall or walk past nicely when its not play time, they will have 0 interest in doing so.

Which will also increase your chances of dog reactivity issues.

What Is Realistic?

Neutrality is realistic. Working to achieve neutrality in the presence of other dogs, where they recognise other dogs but do not feel the need to get aroused/excited or have close interactions with one another.

Making them able to do their own thing in the presence of other dogs. Rather than jumping all over another dog.

You may want to read our blogs:

“My dog is reactive and/or pulls on leash”

“Is Your dog aggressive at dog parks & beaches”

to understand more about why your dog may be reactive towards dogs & how to fix this with realistic expectations

Some quick pointers here, before you jump over to those other blogs:

1. Stop putting your dog in these situations!!! - If you continue to put your dog in uncomfortable situations, forcing them to be around dogs they do not like, you’ll just make the situation worse!

2. Stick to the 3 rules below before allowing your dog to associate with another dog

3. Acceptance – Your dog doesn’t need to or want to be friends with everyone, they may be happy with 1-2 particular dogs or just prefers human company, there is nothing wrong with that & your dog is not missing out on anything.

Rules - Before I let any of my dog’s associate with another dog, there must be the following:

1. I know the owner very well

2. Said owner has effective control over their dog & understands what acceptable dog behaviour is & what isn’t acceptable

3. The dog of said owner is compatible with my dog

If they do not meet all 3 of the above criteria, its simple, your dogs don’t need to associate with that dog.

Now this doesn’t mean they can’t sit their nicely while you have a chat to your friend or neighbour, but they shouldn’t be interacting or playing. There is a difference.

Again, dogs don’t need to play with every or any other dog, nor do they need to be okay with greeting every dog they see.

Just like us, we don’t like every one we meet. While we should still be civil & polite, we do not need to associate with someone we simply do not like & there is no point in forcing you to get along with them.

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