Does your dog need dog friends?

Updated: Feb 18

What’s more important to your dog … You? Or other dogs?

People get so caught up on the idea that their dog needs lots of ‘dog friends’ in order to be happy and have a fulfilling social life. While this may work out just fine for some dogs, for many others it creates lifelong problems.

There is an obsessive focus on socialising dogs with other dogs. A desperate need for them to LOVE other dogs and be friendly all the time. While less attention is paid towards building our own relationship and strong bond with them. I hear it all the time … ‘I just want him to have doggy friends’, ‘I just want him to like other dogs’, ‘I just think he needs to socialise more’. It’s an attitude which suggests that if he has dog friends then everything else will be okay because he will be happy and friendly.

Of course, we all want a dog who is relaxed about interacting with other dogs and has perfect social skills. But sometimes our best intentions lead to the wrong outcome. It might seem simple to take the puppy to a park full of other dogs or send your nervous dog off to day care, expecting them to make friends and become a social butterfly. Afterall, they’re dogs, they need to play with their own species!

The problem with this attitude is that it totally disregards how the dog may really be feeling or what they’re actually learning. When you focus so much on socialisation with other dogs, it becomes easy to miss the signs when your dog is uncomfortable, worried or learning inappropriate behaviours. Behaviours which may seem insignificant in a young puppy can rapidly develop into more serious issues as the puppy matures into an adolescent. This can take us by surprise and we’re left wondering why our delightful puppy has suddenly turned into a devil dog when he sees another dog.

What is Socialisation?

Socialisation is about teaching your dog to feel comfortable in the presence of other dogs, whilst knowing he has support from you. It’s about teaching him appropriate social skills so he can develop into a polite, well-mannered adult. Socialisation is NOT throwing your dog into a room of other puppies and letting him get on with it, or letting your dog run up to meet and play with every dog in the park.