4 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)
Many dogs love to bounce around and play with other dogs. They love to run up and sniff every dog they meet. So, a lot of dog parents assume that this is a universal dog behavior. However, all dogs are different. There are plenty of dogs (like me!) that just don’t want to meet every dog they see.
It’s not that I dislike other dogs, but I just prefer to get to know them first. If a new dog runs up to me and starts sniffing me all over, that’s just too overwhelming! I know I’m not the only dog that thinks this way, so I want to encourage dog lovers to be more careful with who they let their dogs play with.
How to Tell if a Dog Wants to Play
The main thing to remember is that not all dogs want to play. Not all dogs are friendly with other dogs. So, you should never just assume two dogs want to meet because that could end very badly, especially if one dog doesn’t know what personal space is while the other dog is very territorial.
If your dog seems like they want to play with another dog, make sure to ask the other dog’s human first. Make sure that the dog is friendly around other dogs before you allow your dog to sniff them without warning. Most humans will tell you if their dog wants to play or not.
However, if both your dog and another dog are off a leash at the dog park, then it’s okay to let them play. By having your dog off their leash, that should be a way of saying your dog is friendly and eager to play. This is not always the case because not every human is great at controlling their dog, but the dog park is usually the best place to find friends for your dog.
If I don’t want a dog to come near me, I’ll usually growl or snip at them to warn them. I know these aren’t the nicest ways to handle the situation, but it’s hard for dogs to say how we feel. Actions are really our only ways to express ourselves. So, if a dog is acting angry or uncomfortable around your dog, then it’s probably time to give them some space.
So, as much as your dog loves to play, it’s important to never assume what another dog’s behavior will be.
Taking Control of Your Dog
As a dog parent, you know your dog better than anyone else. So, if you know that your dog might not be friendly around another dog, you need to take control of them.
If Molly sees another dog that she thinks might try to play with me, she holds onto my leash extra tight and tries to walk in a different direction. She knows I probably won’t do anything, but it’s just to be safe. Sometimes I growl at other dogs while other times I don’t even pay attention to them. But it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Even if your dog is the friendly one, you still need to keep them under control. Don’t let them wander over to other dogs because you never know what will happen! Take responsibility of your own dog instead of getting upset at someone else’s dog. Not every dog is exactly the same. We have different likes, dislikes, and behaviors just like humans do.
Getting Your Dog Used to Other Dogs
This is something that I’m still working on, but you can help your dog feel more comfortable around other dogs. It usually just takes a lot of time and patience.
For me, I get along with other dogs best when I have time to meet them one-on-one first. I need a chance to sniff them before they sniff me. They usually seem to understand that I like my space, so then we don’t have a problem after that.
So, if there’s another important dog in your life that you want your dog to get along with, give them some alone time together. Don’t introduce them to each other at a busy park with lots of other dogs around because that could be stressful. Be patient with them.
If your dog just doesn’t like to be around other dogs, then that’s okay too! You should never force your dog to play with other dogs because that could just stress them out more. You can train them to behave better without forcing them to do something they don’t want to do.
As I mentioned before, no one knows your dog better than you. So, you should decide when your dog seems eager to play with other dogs and when they don’t. Take responsibility of your own furry friend to help make things easier and happier not only for your dog, but for all the dogs around them.
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