Some of my fondest memories of growing up didn’t happen on the neighborhood sidewalk or backwoods trail. No, some of the best times I’ve ever had were spent with the regulars at the local dog park. We first met when we were just wee pups and instantly “got” one another. I love this connection with friends who knew me way back then.
When choosing friends, we often gravitate toward those who share our interests. But it’s different with dogs. We generally like the same things—belly rubs, chasing squirrels, long walks on the beach. So how do we make friends and how do we know which dogs will be our friends?
It’s important to know that most canine communication is unspoken. When dogs meet for the first time, they sniff one another’s tushies and read body language to get a feel for each other. If both dogs are friendly and sending out positive vibes, they’re more likely to become friends.
It’s not always that simple, though. Past experiences may determine how dogs make friends. For example, if a dog once had a bad experience with, let’s say, a German Shorthair Pointer, he may be wary around that breed later and less likely to make friends.
When introducing dogs to each other, first impressions matter. How the dogs interact in the first few encounters can set the tone for an entire relationship. These steps can help start the friendship on the right paw.
MEET IN NEUTRAL TERRITORY
Dogs are naturally territorial; that’s why they’re protective of their turf. Instead of bringing potential pals to your yard, try a neutral site, like a local park or a sidewalk away from your home.
Dogs are experts at reading your moods and act accordingly, so if you seem nervous, they’ll pick up on it. Ease up on leash death grip and walk with confidence so your dog will have nothing to fear.
LET DOGS GET ACQUAINTED SLOWLY
Throwing dogs together in a backyard to let them work it out can lead to heartbreak. You want your dog to be sociable, but pushing them into situations that make them nervous can cause anxiety. The key? Give animals a choice. Take it slow, and if your dog seems tense, pull away.
Most dogs will do just about anything for a treat, so it’s handy to have a stash always with you to reward good behavior. Any time your dog has a successful encounter, give them a treat! It will encourage positive social conduct and ramp up their chances of making new friends.
Just as you don’t expect to like every person you meet, you can’t expect your dog to be bestest buds with every canine, either. Understanding how your pooch makes pals lets you expose them to situations where there’s the best possible chance of forming friendships.
There are several notions about how we move from stranger to friend to best friend. If your dog is ready to meet other pups, go where dogs gather in a comfortable, playful setting, like a dog park or the beach.
From friendship and love, life abounds.