When Dogs Meet Other Dogs

Have you ever wondered what us dogs say to each other when we meet for the first time? And why we talk sometimes and other times appear to be angry at each other? Let me tell you a few of our secrets!

When you went to dog training no doubt you heard about pack leaders and dominance. Whilst most pet dogs are domesticated dogs interact with other dogs according to dog protocol, where each pack member is dominant to some dogs and subordinate to others. That is unless they are considered to be the ‘alpha male’ who is the boss to all dogs, or the lowest ranking pack member who is considered subordinate to all other dogs. It sounds very complicated, but it isn’t really, but when two dogs meet it has to be established who is the boss.

This is done by considering several things.

  • First, consider how old they are. Puppies of a similar age tend to play nicely together as they haven’t considered who is the boss, just yet! In fact most dogs are happy to talk to puppies, as they are quite innocent, just like children. However when the puppy starts getting older they sometimes try to say that they’re the boss and it will take an older dog to tell them that they are not!
  • Big dogs usually get on with dogs of the opposite sex better than those of the same sex, but this doesn’t apply to puppies usually due to their innocence again.
  • Sometimes dogs think of a particular place as their own, and they will guard that at all costs. This is not restricted to just their home or garden, but can also apply to a lane or park where they regularly walk, as they will see this as their own, and get aggressive to protect that too.
  • If dogs don’t have their owners with them they can just get along better sometimes. There may be an initial bark or a sniff but very often they will be playing together quite happily after a short while. If the owners are there then sometimes the dog will feel the need to protect their owner, or be frightened due to jealousy.

You can usually tell how the meeting will go, as a dog who is looking to be friendly will have a slightly crouched stance, a wagging tail, ears which are laid back and a gaze that is not direct to the other dog. An unfriendly approach will be the total opposite, standing upright, erect ears and tail with a direct threatening gaze, and possibly growling. Naturally the response will depend on the approach. If all is friendly you could see one or both dogs rolling over on to its back or even urinate a little, which is a sign that he accepts the friendship.

It is a very good idea to introduce your dog to others at a very early stage so that it can develop social skills. Try looking for puppy training classes near where you live, or through the vets.

Misty x