Why Does My Dog Like Some Dogs But Not Others?

35 Comments

Why Does My Dog Like Some Dogs But Not Others?Some dogs seem to love all other dogs and will play and be social with each one they meet. At the other end of the spectrum are reactive dogs that seem to be aggressive with almost all other dogs. But most of us have dogs that are somewhere in the middle, they like some dogs but not others. If your dog doesn’t like every dog they come across, does it mean you’ve failed at properly socializing your best friend? I don’t think so.

Dogs are a lot like us humans. Some of us are very open to socializing with everyone we meet while others are more introverted, indifferent or maybe even defensive around others. But just like dogs, most of us fall somewhere in between. There is one difference between dogs and humans though. Dogs tend to decide quickly how they feel about each other and sometimes they make their determination from a distance.

Recently, I read an article debating whether a dog could be racist if they shun other dogs of certain breeds or colors. Even though dogs do profile other canines based on past experiences or preferences, they’re not capable of understanding concepts like racism. But here are some other reasons why your dog might not like some dogs.

Why Does My Dog Like Some Dogs But Not Others?

  • Body Language
  • Your dog may notice something about another dog’s body language that he doesn’t like. Sometimes this happens at a distance and your pup has already made up his mind before the dogs meet face to face. Many dogs are turned off by overly-excited dogs or dogs that display dominant postures. Haley’s always been a somewhat excitable dog so she tends to trigger reactive dogs and does better when meeting calm dogs.
  • Scent
  • With a dog’s amazing sense of smell, they can identify a lot of information about another dog even if they’re quite a distance away. There may be something about the other dog’s scent that your dog doesn’t like or it may remind him of a dog he didn’t get along with in the past.
    Dogs Sniffing Each Other
  • Past Experiences
  • If your dog had a bad experience with another dog, they may avoid or react to other dogs that look or smell the same. Haley had a bad experience with an aggressive Goldendoodle in our neighborhood so sometimes she gets tense when seeing other Goldendoodles. It’s also interesting how she acts friendlier towards dogs that look like friends she enjoyed playing with in the past.
  • Gender
  • Some dogs prefer to socialize with dogs of the opposite sex rather than ones of their own sex.
  • Protectiveness
  • Dogs that are protective, possessive or jealous may not like other dogs when they get too close. They might get along just fine if they were to play alone, but when protecting something they value, they feel threatened and react defensively.
  • Your Attitude
  • Dogs are masters of reading our body language and emotions. When we get tense they can react to our tension. This can become a vicious circle (pardon the pun) when a dog begins to react to other dogs then we become tense or fearful every time they meet a new dog.

Dogs in LoveJust like we humans don’t like every person we meet, there’s no reason to be worried or feel you haven’t socialized your dog enough if he snubs an occasional dog. Some dogs are more content just hanging out with humans instead of other dogs and that’s okay too. But if you have a dog that’s highly reactive, defensive or aggressive towards other dogs, working with a positive-reinforcement trainer or behaviorist in your area may help desensitize your dog and make your life less stressful.

Does your dog like some dogs but not others? Share your thoughts with us in a comment below!

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Does Your Dog Like Some Dogs But Not Others?

35 Comments on “Why Does My Dog Like Some Dogs But Not Others?”

    • Ruby definitely falls somewhere in between. Other dogs occasionally react negatively to Ruby. She can be a bit hesitant around other dogs and I think they sense that. And as you mentioned, I know I occasionally become worried when we meet new dogs, which she then senses, etc.

      • I’m sometimes that way too. We always want to have a positive interaction and it’s hard to relax sometimes, especially if the other dog is hyper or approaching fast.

    • We all have certain dogs we like, some that are our best friends, and some we don’t like at all. Mom says it is just like humans…one size does not fit all.

      • Very true, Emma. Sometimes if we just let the dogs decide instead of forcing interactions, we would all have an easier time too.

    • My Sheltie’s reaction to other dogs does not seem to be gender- or breed-specific, nor does it seem to be size-specific. Her vocal reaction to other dogs in outdoor settings is something we work on daily!

      May I have permission to reblog this post on my own site dogmysteries.com? Full attribution, of course!

      • That’s interesting, Susan. Have you been able to find any other common attributes for the dogs she reacts too? Please, feel free to reblog the post too!?

    • Very interesting read. We are going through some trouble trying to get Arliss to socialize. He doesn’t mind other male dogs, but wants to fight all females to the death. His sister, Lily, gets along with all dogs.

    • This is so interesting, thanks for sharing! My Husky, Icy, pretty much loves every other dog she meets & wants to PLAY with them. She tends to be a lot more excitable when meeting other dogs and I think it turns some dogs off, especially older or smaller dogs and those with a low energy level. I’m always looking to match her up with a more active dog. I love that photo of the two spotted dogs, the flower on her collar is so pretty!
      Love & Biscuits,
      Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

      • Sometimes it’s frustrating with an excitable dog, isn’t it? I always love it when we meet a super relaxed dog that doesn’t mind Haley’s energy and they just act indifferent. I think it really helps her to see how they react and she calms down instantly. Those two Great Danes were just adorable!?

    • This was a great post because I have this issue with Dakota. While he DOESN’T like most dogs, he does like some. I always blame myself and I am glad to read that it isn’t necessarily me. The “scent” issue that you mentioned, I found to be of particular interest. I never thought of that before! Thanks!

      • I think the scent issue really comes into play at a distance more than I realized. It’s funny to think how our pups might decide so quickly whether they like another dog.

    • My Cavalier Spencer intensely disliked all big, black dogs. Since I had him from 10 weeks old, and to my knowledge he had never had a bad encounter with a large black dog, I could never figure out why. Something about them just seemed to scare him. On the other hand, he LOVED all other Cavaliers, no matter what their personality. Go figure!

      • I just realized something, Camille. I wonder if a puppy sees a certain type of dog during their fear periods of development, if that could come into play too, especially if the other dog looked big or scary for some reason.

    • It’s cuckoo to expect event social dogs to like all other dogs equally.

      I’ve found body language to be really important and one reason why dogs of the same breed characteristics may tend to like each other. The floppy play bow of a golden retriever looks pretty similar from one dog to another. And it’s just a little bit different from that of a labrador retriever. It makes it easy for dogs to understand each other instantly,

      Sort of like people who drink “pop” or eat “hoagies” understand each other more quickly than those who use different names.

      • Ah ha, I think you may be onto something there, Pamela! I’ve read that dogs with docked tails sometimes have it a little rougher when interacting with other dogs, since tails are a big part reading intensions and moods. Great point!? I’m originally from Pittsburgh and love it when I come across someone speaking Pittsburghese, lol!

    • Interesting post, Elaine. My golden retriever Savanna usually seems to prefer the company of people. I have only taken her to a dog park one time, but when I did, she went around trying to get attention from all of the people and pretty much ignored the other dogs.

      • Aw, I believe Haley’s the same way, Rachele. She much prefers the company of humans too. Goldens are so loving and sweet! I don’t think I’ve ever met one that didn’t want to greet me in a loving way.?

    • Sand spring Chesapeakes

      Thanks for this post right now I’m dealing with preacher not liking guilty in my house after preacher got returned to me cuz she didn’t like the dog she moved in with.

      • Oh no, I didn’t realize Preacher came back home. If anyone can get that issue sorted out, it’s got to be you, JoAnn. You’re amazing with your Chessies! ?

    • So I totally get this – the doxies really like other doxies which I suppose makes sense. And Sherm and the doxies don’t seem to mind small dogs but any dogs larger than let’s say a Corgi they have an issue with AND Labs, forget it….

      • That really does make sense and there are a lot of high-energy labs out there so that could be a factor too. A big, excitable dog is a lot of deal with for the little ones.

    • Sam loves everyone and yet there are a few dogs in our neighborhood that go crazy around him and he exhibits a mutual dislike. I believe there is an energy that seeps out that causes kerfuffles. Luckily he shakes it off quickly and goes back to being his sweet silly self.

      • They really do pick up on that energy and you can’t blame Sam at all for not liking those hyper, crazy-acting dogs. Haley’s been put in her place a few times by dogs that didn’t like her excitable energy and it usually calmed her right down, which I appreciated a lot. The owners of the other dogs quickly apologized but assured them now helpful it was that their dogs were teaching mine some manners. It doesn’t always happen that way, but it’s nice when a dog can help another dog, even if there’s a little growling or air-snapping.

      • That makes total sense, Jean. I guess we people are the same way too. As we get older, we like it a little quieter and calmer.?

    • It’s a daily struggle for us! Just because the Boys are fluffy people with dogs automatically think they want to play. Harley isn’t always interested, and many times when he barks he scares the other human because they weren’t expecting it. I still struggle with dogs I don’t know because of canine viruses. Leo’s death will always make me super cautious. Great post – love that final paragraph – very well written.

      • Thanks, Cathy! I know what you mean about fluffy dogs. I wonder if people think of them as big, lovable teddy bears or something. They are so adorable looking, I guess people have that perception.

    • I’ve been taking my Westie to my dog park since she was 12 weeks old. There was an Airedale puppy (female) there that was pawing and being playful, but apparently hurt and scared Rota. Since then, she often bares her teeth and goes after the Airedale and more recently a wire haired fox terrier (also a female puppy about 8 months old) that looks like a mini Airedale. She also gets jealous when these dogs play with her best friend Yo, who’s a male Jack Russell

      She gets along with all the other dogs really well, so I don’t know what to do. Should I leave the dog park when they get there? It’s embarrassing and potentially dangerous.

      Any help and suggestions are welcome.

      • Hi Lynne,

        It sounds like Rota’s bad experience with the Airedale puppy might have made her reactive to dogs that look (and maybe act) similar. That’s understandable since she got scared and hurt by the first dog. You could try to steer Rota away from the problem dogs and Yo by having her follow you to a different area of the park, but that might not be very easy if she enjoys playing with Yo. You could also try getting her engaged more with you while at the park, like playing with a ball or toy or maybe just walking around to investigate different areas of the park and different dogs.

        If the dog parks visits are becoming too stressful for you and Rota (or you notice her aggressive behavior is getting worse), it would be better to visit the park at a different time or maybe try a new park if there’s more than one in your area. Sometimes people feel like they’re being rude or might hurt another dog owner’s feelings if they suddenly leave when the other person arrives with their dog, but you have to protect your dog and prevent any long-term aggression issues from developing. Just smile and be friendly, but look out for your dog’s best interests.

        Good luck with the distraction techniques and I hope it all works out with Rota and her buddies at the park.😊

    • Thank you for posting this! My male dog, a collie hound mix, is about 11 months old, and we adopted him at 8 months. At first he got along with all dogs, now in the past 3 weeks or so he is having trouble with only certain dogs and is very vocal about his dislike. Occasionally not just barking, but also growling and barring teeth. He mostly does not get along with other male dogs, but when he is at doggy daycare I am told he gets along with everyone. So I am not sure if this is a protection thing, a on the leash thing (when 99% of it occurs), or a general dislike thing.

      We are working on learning to ignore and keep walking when we see other dogs unless I specifically have us stop and greet. Along with that we are doing all kinds of other basic training (he had none when we got him), so that we can distract him with more commands when dogs approach.

      I am hoping to “out grow” this with training! Any help or suggestions are welcomed!

      • Hi, Katie!
        Your boy might outgrow this since he’s currently in his adolescent phase but he does sound quite reactive to some dogs when on a leash (barring this teeth and being so vocal). Since he gets along so well with his doggie daycare buddies, I would try to nip this behavior in the bud by using a no-pull type harness instead of a collar and also keep working on the distraction techniques, like having your dog sit and look at you for a super-yummy treat while other dogs are at a distance away where he’s not yet reacting. Then, you can gradually work on reducing the distance until he’s more comfortable and focused on you even when other dogs are close by. It takes some patience as you work at a pace your dog is comfortable with, but it really pays off in the end.

        If he’s still intact, that also could be a factor with his reaction to other male dogs but it sounds like you’re on the right track with the training and hopefully by working together this will resolve soon. Congrats on adopting your new boy and keep up the great work on training!😊

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