While many dogs are social butterflies, not all dogs get along with other dogs. Forcing dogs to interact and meet at dog parks may lead to trouble.
All dog owners dream of a dog that gets along with other dogs and enjoys happy romps at the dog park. While Rover may seem to get along with other dogs as a puppy, things may change considerably as he grows up. When things start taking a turn for the worse, dog owners are often quite surprised and wonder if Rover just got up from the wrong side of the bed. This sudden wake-up call is, more often than not, simply a sign the dog is maturing.
Why is my Dog Intolerant of Other Dogs?
Many dogs change considerably as they reach social maturity. Social maturity generally takes place between the ages of 12 to 36 months according to the Merck Veterinary Manual. In free-ranging dogs, this is the time when they start separating from the pack so to form their own. In domestic settings, this time coincides with when dogs start to develop problematic inter-dog aggression and same-sex fighting in multi-dog households.
This is when owners often witness drastic changes. Dogs go from accepting all dogs to almost out of the blue, discriminating on which dogs to interactdoes not happen with all dogs. Indeed, some dog breeds are prone to be more accepting and never really have a problem with their social interactions with other dogs. On the other hand, some breeds are prone to inter-dog aggression or same-sex aggression and sometimes this is even noted in their breed standard.
How to Deal With the Problem
Forcing interactions with other dogs will not solve the problem; actually, in some cases, this may even aggravate things. Some dog owners underestimate the first aggressive display by continuing taking the dog to the dog park, only to get a more prominent wake-up call when things get nasty and the dog bites another dog.
While dogs are generally quite social beings, it is important to recognize that some dogs are better off kept away from other dogs. Just as some people enjoy mingling with others in crowded discos, while others rather spend an evening in the peace of their home sipping on a cup of hot chocolate in front of a crackling fire, dogs also have their social preferences.
However, this does not automatically mean banning your dog from seeing other dogs and walking your dog in the wee hours of the early morning or late at night to avoid other dogs. It just means to avoid rowdy interactions at the dog park or encounters with unruly dogs that have little knowledge in proper canine etiquette. Keep an eye on your dog and try to figure out what kind of dogs your dog reacts to. Your dog may prefer slow, polite introductions with calmer dogs. Ditch the dog park and organize supervised play dates or structured walks with these dogs.
It is wrong to accuse a dog that is growling for being aggressive when the other dog, in reality, approached in an impolite way. After all, the Marin Humane Society states: “how would you feel if a complete stranger got into your space and suddenly hugged you”? Very likely you would think he is crazy and may even send him away! Just as humans, dogs have their own greeting etiquette and own preferences when it comes to selecting who is the friend and who is the foe.