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Why Does My Dog Ignore Other Dogs?

Question:

Why does my dog ignore other dogs? Is that normal?

Answer:

While play comes naturally to dogs, there are various reasons why some dogs don’t jump enthusiastically into the play fray. If you’re wondering why a dog would ignore other dogs, here are some explanations why.

Reasons a dog might ignore other dogs

Socialization (or lack thereof)

If your dog was not exposed to other dogs at a young age, they might simply be overwhelmed or afraid of them. Even if your dog was socialized with other pups early on, it could be that your dog only interacted with those whose play styles were similar to theirs.

Different play styles

Play styles actually vary quite a bit by dog breed. A Labrador Retriever, for example, will play very differently than a Bichon Frise (think Bulldog in a china shop versus delicate flower). It’s easy to see how one might get overwhelmed.

A preference for people

Another possibility is that your dog is simply more of a “people dog” than a “dog’s dog.” It’s not uncommon for a dog to prefer the company of humans to that of other dogs. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

What to do if your dog ignores other dogs

If your dog ignores other dogs, they’re not a lost cause. Here are a couple of ways you can work on this behavior:

Try play dates

If you want to encourage your dog to play with other dogs, set up a play date with an appropriate canine partner. Choose a dog who will be friendly but not overwhelming. If all goes well, after a few play dates, find another potential buddy. That way, you can widen your dog’s circle of canine friends gradually and safely.

Do doggy daycare

If playmates are not available through friends or neighbors, try a well-run dog daycare. Ask the owners when the facility is apt to be less crowded and schedule your first visit for that time of day. Explain to the daycare owners that your dog has had only limited play experience and ask for feedback. Who knows? You might be surprised how readily your dog ventures into the action once they see you’re not around.

So, if you have a dog that ignores other dogs, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with your pup. More likely than not, they just need more practice socializing.


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