Should Dogs Be Required to Be Friends With All Dogs?
1. Dog people, particularly in urban societies are often adopting the idea their dog needs to have "friends". Is this true?
It is true that dogs are pack animals. In the wild they do it out of survival. They work as a group for food, shelter and survival. Domesticated dogs don't live under these circumstances and while they may form a "pack" in a family situation with other dogs or even cats and people in the home, they don't have a need to form packs outside of their own home. While yes, finding compatible playmates can be helpful, your dog doesn't need a social life with tons of other dogs in their lives to be happy. In fact many dogs are actually introverts and are quite happy with limited dog to dog interaction.
2. A dog with good socialization skills does not need to be required to like or "be friends" with every other dog.
People somehow expect dogs should like all other dogs. Though they are not children and should not be treated as though they are, think about this.... does your kid like every other kid in their same class, school, or any other social situation they function in?
As a parent, do you like every kid your kid wants to play with?
The expectation that dogs should like all other dogs is unrealistic and unfair.
3. Forced friendships suck
Friendships generally form from a vibe. You get one another. Same is true with dogs.
Putting two dogs together, nose to nose while you tell them, "say hi" is not the best way to find your dog's "friends".
When dogs are introduced, give them space. Let them do their thing. Sniff, circle, check one another out. Dog "friendships" happen naturally.
Let them initiate play. Don't force it.
And if they have no interest in one another, be cool with it.
4. Should you take your dog to a dog park to make friends?
Unpopular opinion, but one that comes from a couple of decades of working with dogs professionally...
No. Dog parks are the worst place to take your dog to make friends, unless of course you'd like to teach them bad behavior!
Though I'm all for open space for a dog to run in, most dogs in dog parks have no recall. Their people aren't watching them and socializing amongst themselves. New people show up with dogs who may or may not be "socialized" at all. Dog fights break out. It's like sending your 4 year old kid into a mosh pit unattended.
5. Find compatible dogs for friends
All dogs don't all have the same energy or play in the same way. Yes, having a dog to play with, go on a pack walk with, or just hang with is a good thing. Like yourself, choose their friends wisely.
It's not a matter of making them like one another. The best way for your dog to meet a new dog of your choosing is to allow them to interact in their dog ways. In fact I often tell people to meet in open space like a yard. Don't focus on making them meet nose to nose, let them approach and sniff one another. Don't force anything.
They'll vibe or they they won't. You can't force a feeling. Let it happen.
6. Calming the Chaos
Dogs don't come into this world speaking English and they don't have the ability to figure out complex problems. We humans talk to them as though they can. Life can get chaotic when you've got a dog that is over excited, under excited, suffers from a bit of anxiety or reactivity. You might be tired of your dog going into a barking frenzy when the doorbell rings or some even walks past your front window. You might have trouble walking your dog on a leash, or getting your dog to come to you from across the room, let alone in a park. You might be embarrassed that your dog jumps on family members, friends and strangers, pees or poops in inappropriate places, chews up shoes and anything else left laying about. Yet you love your dog. And your dog adores you even in your worst moments...
I created the Calming the Chaos Experiment so that I could help dog people from all over get back to enjoying life with their dog the way dogs who come to my dog camps do.
Join me here: Calming the Chaos