How Much Contact Does a Dog Really Need With Other Dogs?

Dog owners keep discussing how often a dog needs contact with other dogs. Here you can read about the factors on which this depends, how your dog learns social behavior and how you can tell the difference between playing and fighting.

How much dog does a dog actually need to be happy? Dog owners ask this question over and over again. Opinions differ greatly, especially with puppies and young dogs. Find out here which factors determine how much contact your dog really needs with other dogs and how it learns to behave socially.

How much social contact does a dog need?

It is not possible to generalize how often a dog needs contact with other dogs. Many different factors influence this. This includes:

  • Dog’s previous experience
  • personality of the dog
  • genetics and race
  • education of the dog

Age can also play a role: Older dogs are often less interested in their own kind than young dogs. What is certain is that many dogs like to get in touch with other four-legged friends. If your dog prefers to be alone or with people, that’s completely normal.

Let your dog decide

Dogs perceive each other long before they face each other. You can smell and observe each other from a distance. They already show through body signals whether they want to get to know the other four-legged friend or not.

However, the physical signs are overlooked by many dog owners. The dog then often has to involuntarily come into contact with conspecifics. Stressed or tense encounters are the result. There is a lot you can do to ensure that dog encounters are peaceful.

Never force your dog into contact. If you notice that he is tense and wants to avoid a fellow cat, do him a favor and simply cross the street, for example.

Puppies and peers

It is often said that puppies absolutely need a lot of contact with other dogs. A puppy should have regular contact with other dogs, but the same applies to young dogs: forcing social contact is not a good idea. If the dog is tense during the encounter, this tension will certainly have an effect on the person opposite.

If it then escalates, the consequences are fatal: the puppy has had a negative experience with other dogs and will be less open to other dogs in the future.

This is how the dog learns to behave socially

Dogs should be allowed time to get to know each other slowly. They too must build trust in one another. Support your dog when you meet other four-legged friends. If he finds the encounter pleasant and if he is allowed to get to know others from a distance without getting excited, this has a positive effect on his social behavior.

Your dog should only approach others calmly and slowly – the same should happen the other way around. If he already knows a conspecific a little better, going for a walk together can do you good. In this way, the dog learns to behave socially and is also more polite and considerate towards others.

Game or argument – when should people intervene?

If your dog is playing with others, you should always watch him closely. In this way, you can identify and prevent a serious dispute at an early stage. Especially with puppies, negative experiences can otherwise be remembered.

The so-called “free play” is a constant exchange of roles among dogs: sometimes one is the “hunter”, sometimes the other. There is no winner, no loser. Bites may be implied, or the dogs may bark or growl playfully. You do not have to intervene here, this is only necessary in the event of a serious dispute.

A serious dog fight begins when one of the following signals is true:

  • The dogs really bite each other.
  • A dog has been injured or howls in pain.
  • One dog presses the other down longer.
  • A dog stiffens.
  • One dog is constantly being “bullied” by the other.
  • A dog shows signs of fear.

Let your dog hide with you if he wants to. He decides when the game is over. Should you need to interfere with the dog play, remain calm and try to summon your dog. If that doesn’t work, approach the dogs calmly and get your dog. Ask the other dog’s owner to take theirs out of the play situation as well. In any case, stay calm and don’t shout.

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