We all want our dogs to get along with other dogs but realistically, once dogs are a bit older, they do not necessary want to play with ‘random’ strangers at the dog park. Once grown up most dogs are what we call ‘dog selective’. Some like to play with their friends only, some prefer the opposite sex, some smaller dogs and some don’t like to play at all. This is all normal and we need to accept the fact that most dogs are not going to enjoy play like they did as puppies.
It is very similar to us humans when we are children we talk to other kids and make new friends easily, as teenagers we are still making new friends but also have a group of friends we interact with more. In our twenties we still might go to the pub or coffee shop to make new friends but the older we get the more we tend to socialise in our own circles. This does not mean older dogs and people cannot make new friends, it just means we all do it less.
As with most things, prevention is much better than cure! If you want your adult dog to get along with other dogs, it is important to socialise puppies early (before 16 weeks) and in an appropriate setting.
This means your puppy needs to attend a puppy class that allows for carefully supervised puppy play with suitable playmates. During COVID your puppy class should provide information on how to socialise safely with other puppies in your area.
A puppy class that does not do this is a waste of time and money!
Puppy to puppy interaction should not be a ‘free for all’; this can traumatise a shy puppy and make an outgoing puppy a bully. They should be matched with puppies with a similar playstyle and temperament, sessions should be short and fun for all.
The dog park is NOT a place to socialise puppies. The dog park is a place for well socialised and resilient dogs. Well-socialised puppies often maintain a positive attitude towards other dogs for their entire life.
We can do remedial socialisation with young dogs if we can match them with a stable and friendly dog who likes to play. Check this video Facebook. It is best to get in contact with a qualified force free trainer for this. Your best starting point is www.ppgaustralia.net.au.
If your dog does not want to play with other dogs, choose other activities for them like going for bush walks, a dog sport such as agility, nose work or Rally O, trick training at home. It is also important to teach them to walk past other dogs calmy. I explain here how to stop your dog from pulling on the lead.
There are a lot of completely normal and friendly dogs who do not enjoy the dog park!
To learn more, please contact Barbara @ Goodog Positive Dog & Puppy Training
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