How Dogs Pick Friends

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of my favorite Disney movies is “The Fox and the Hound”, I love the unlikely friendship between Tod and Copper and yes, I cried when they were separated. The song is also one of my favorites, “When you’re the best of friends, having so much fun together…you’re not even aware you’re such a funny pair…you’re the best of friends”. Well, we may not have foxes at Camp but we have plenty of friends, and foes. Which begs the question, how do dogs pick their friends?

Dog friends and foes come in odd packages and we see it at Camp all day long. You ask why not all dogs get along? Well, why don’t all people get along? I’m sure there are people you prefer not to pursue a friendship with. Perhaps you have nothing in common, you don’t share the same values, they have a different energy level than you…the options are endless. It’s the same for dogs and while they don’t judge one another by annual income or wardrobe, there are plenty of indicators that help dogs choose their friends.

How do dogs choose their friends?

  • Body language-There are subtle movements that humans easily overlook or are unaware of but in the canine world a small movement by a dog could be perceived like screaming to a human. You know that “feeling” you get about people or situations, that inkling that says, “something isn’t right here”, you’re always told to trust your instincts and that’s exactly what your dog is doing.
  • Smell-The nose knows. Your dogs sense of smell is practically beyond comprehension. While humans have approximately 5 million scent receptors, dogs can have up to 300 million. Everything your dog needs to know can usually be found through his nose. His nose tells him where a dog has been, who they’re acquainted with, their age, what they had for lunch, etc. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Behavior-Perhaps you have an older dog who’s relaxed and treasures his afternoon naps, putting him in a room full of puppy’s probably won’t be his ideal version of a “play date”. The overly rambunctious energy of a puppy might stress and annoy the older dog. Just like your idea of a best friend might not be a “chatty Cathy”, we all have our preferences.
  • Past experiences-We love to think that we know what our dogs are thinking, but we don’t (I know, I’m in denial about this too) but past experiences can affect our dogs. They are creatures of learned behavior, so for example if they were beat and then thrown into a crate, they probably will have a fear of crates. If they were viciously attacked by a large fluffy dog, they might not like fluffy dogs. We don’t know what happened in the past and some things in the past are best left in the past. Unless your dog is going to start talking to you, you’re better off putting your energy into creating new positive experiences for them!

We’re always asked what happens if dogs don’t get along at Camp…well, what happens when your kids don’t get along with others at daycare? They may get separated from each other, put in a time out, or have a note sent home. Same thing for doggie daycare. Having four play yards that we can separate by size and temperament helps us group dogs together that make balanced and safe play groups. Too bad it isn’t that easy for our kids!

School have a strict no bullying policy and so do we. Everyone shows their naughty side from time to time, but aggressive dogs aren’t accepted at Camp.

 

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