When choosing friends, people often gravitate towards those with complementary interests and personalities as them, as these similarities make it easier to start and build friendship. But no matter how social they are, some people just won’t get along. It’s just one of those undeniable facts of life; you won’t be friends with everyone.
The same goes for dogs. We know that all dogs don’t like other dogs, but how do they choose they want to be close to and who to avoid?
When it comes to canine communication, the vast majority of it is unspoken. When dogs encounter each other for the first time, they analyze each other’s body language and any olfactory clues the other is giving off.
From this, dogs can quickly determine whether they consider this new pup a friend or foe.
For example, if your dog encounters another dog and the first thing they notice is rigid body, raised tail, and barred teeth, there’s a good chance your dog will not want to be friends with them.
However, body language and smell aren’t the only way that dogs determine who their friends are. They also make friendship decisions based on their past experiences.
For example, if a dog was attacked by a large black dog, they may become instantly wary of any large black dog they come in contact with in the future. In fact, this dislike can spread beyond just large black dogs to include any dog that has a similar smell or body language.
Just because dogs generally choose who they want to be friends with upon first meeting them, it doesn’t mean you can’t help them form friendships with other dogs. If you want to expand your dog’s circle of friends, try gradual positive reinforcement obedience training.
When you’re out walking your dog, make sure to have a pocket full of treats with you. When you start to encounter another dog, praise your dog and give them lots of treats so they begin to associate the presence of other dogs with yummy snacks. Eventually, they will be excited to see other dogs, increasing their chances of becoming friends.
Just like you can’t expect to like everyone you meet, you can’t expect your dog to. However, understanding how your pup makes friends will allow you expose them to situations where they can have the best possible chance of forming friendships.
H/t to: Vet Street