The (Dog) Social Network – the facts about dog interaction

One of the things we hear most about dogs is that they should be well socialised. For most people, this means getting them to interact with other dogs as often as possible. Have you ever noticed that some dogs simply do not like the look of other dogs? Here’s why…

If we look at canines in Nature, a pack keeps itself to itself unless the need to hunt means they encroach on another pack’s territory. This can lead to problems. NB: Humans are no different – Northern Ireland, Syria, Ukraine, Palestine etc.

The reality for our dogs is that we often stick them all together in one small space (small by their standards) and the dog park is no exception. There are some dogs that – due to their personality – see other dogs not as potential playmates but as potential problems. Other dogs bound up to them without thinking and occasionally this can lead to a scrap.

The idea therefore is to firstly have our dogs tolerate each other rather than become instant friends. Imagine a child asking to play with some other kids that the parent hasn’t met before. A good parent would maybe check them out, see the tattoos and say “Definitely not”. It’s the same with our dogs.

If you are going to take your dog to a social gathering, start at a safe distance and see how your dog reacts as well as the others present. If you think that they are well-behaved enough then maybe they can interact. Just letting go and hoping that they will “sort it out among themselves” can lead to a lot of problems, especially as we have created breeds of dogs that vary greatly in size. A Great Dane can easily do serious damage to a Chihuahua simply by picking it up and shaking it (and vice versa if the Chihuahua gets stuck in the Great Dane’s throat!).

Of course, dogs get excited and play. That is fine and should be encouraged. However, keep an eye out for the ones who refuse to join in or – even worse – physically dominate the other dogs in what it sees as its territory.

Ideally, starting with all the dogs on lead and giving them time to settle down a bit is the way to go. However, if you can’t do that, then play safe. This is particularly true if you are walking someone else’s dog! Having to tell the owner that you’ve broken their dog is not something anyone wants to do…

Tony Knight

www.tonyknightdoglistener.com

PS: Dog Education Weekends are taking place in Australia in Oct/Nov 2015 at the following locations:
Melbourne / Geelong / Torquay / Ballarat / Ararat / Sydney / Brisbane / Hervey Bay / Grafton
Email [email protected] for more details.

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