Why Does My Dog Like Some Dogs But Not Others?


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! Does Your Dog Like Some Dogs But Not Others?

62 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.

      • My puppy only loves puppy his age and they must be girls! Not in to the older 5 year old dog next door, I don’t understand because she’s a nice and put up with him! But he a real poop to her 🤨 ! But is very nice to puppy his age only! I so very confused 🫤! He was found on the street as a 1 month old puppy! ( he is not any kind of breed dog mutt or village dog) he only 28lbs ! He confused me some times!

    • 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!😊

    • We have a 2 year old great pyrenees…got her when she was 7 months old, and she got along with our golden who was 13…and passed away 3 months later from old age. My son adopted a 6 month female lab…(now a year old) and our great pyrenees always plays great together. My oldest son who just moved back with us temporarily has a 2 year old white Alaskan husky, and or great pyrenees growls at her and even picked a fight with her a couple of days ago. I don’t understand why the aggression towards my son’s dog. Sometimes she won’t even come up stairs to bed because she knows my son’s dog is up stairs. I have to call her several times to get her to come up. Don’t know what to do. Would love all dogs to get along and be friends.

    • My female Labrador seems to have a aggressive aid towards large male dogs, we walked around the park meeting dogs (on the lead) all was fine little sniff, then when we sat down a large Rottweiler male appeared behind us and my dog was barking and Brissling, the man with the large dog just stood there telling me my dog was aggressive but normally she is soppy as anything and I ended up taking her away from the situation as she was getting very distressed, maybe sensing my stress aswell. similar thing happened while walking her of the lead and she met a young male Dalmatian she was calmer but he was boisterous and she had a couple of goes at him, just warnings I think. I don’t really know why she is doing this as it has been a recent change in her.

    • My dog seems to be fine once I take her off the leash at the park, but she snaps at every dog walking by when on the leash. She’s picked a couple of little fights with dogs at the park and I notice she is more aggressive to dogs who are not doing anything and just standing there or don’t want to play. It makes her seem like a menace and I get embarrassed taking her to the park when she’s the one causing trouble with dogs who are relaxed and timid.

    • I have 3 Australian Shepherds. My first 1 is 3 and My second one just turned one. We also took in a 3rd who is about 11 mo now and we took him in at 9mo. He grew up in a family with kids, but found out the mom was allergic to him and they had to get rid of him. Anyway, he fit right in with our two! Loves it! He’s been to the dog park and been to friends houses with toys and bones a lot! However, just recently my brother in law got an Aussie puppy. We went over to his house and their puppy growled at our three a little bit and they just backed off and did they’re own thing. This weekend we got together and there was bones and toys involved and he is aggressive towards him now? He’s never been aggressive before. He growls, bears teeth, and lunges after him. This is the only dog I’ve seen him act like this with. Sure our dogs sometimes steal bones and toys from each other, and same when we go to friends houses, but he has never done this.

    • My Aussie mix, is great when meeting new doggy friends.. If anything she is a bit reserved or shy, and tends to mind her own business. However, she has developed a great dislike for the Doberman down the street. She is extremely aggressisve towards him when he is on lead walking past our home. Could it be his dominant posture?

    • We are currently dealing with our normally easy going dog who has decided he HATES a dog we often cross paths with during morning walks. He growls viciously and lunges towards this dog. We walk in a group that usually has 4 to 9 dogs. This is the only dog my dog has reacted to like this. He has been afraid of other dogs and has barked consistently at a few others but I have never seen this level of aggression. It is scary and reminds me that you can never predict how an animal will react.

    • I have an American Staffy (5 mths old). When we’re at the dog park he gets on well with most of the other dogs but yesterday a large german shepherd came in and my dog went right off barking and snarling at the shepherd. Today all was fine until a large rotwellier came in and the same thing happened. Both times we had been there for just over an hour and I was wondering if maybe this was too long for my pup and the new dogs coming in where just too much for him, otherwise I don’t know what the problem was.

    • I have a 15month old male GSD, only neutered in the last few weeks, who gets on with all dogs. Even dogs who sometimes have a problem with others seen to like him, he even managed to make friends with a little spaniel who was afraid of sheps due to a bite. He now plays and runs after my dog.

      He does, however, take a dislike to certain people. I met two old friends recently and one he licked and loved – the other he backed away when extending a hand etc. Wouldn’t let her near him even after two hours in their company.

      Dogs are strange creatures.

    • Hello,

      My dog is very excitable and friendly. Recently male dogs have taken a disliking to him (he is neutered), even when he seemingly doesn’t even notice them they run up to us and growl.

      I’m wondering if he might be emitting fearfulness as a few weeks ago he met my aunty’s dog who really didn’t like him and he acted with nervous excitement and unfortunately they kept being thrown together. Could this be related?

      Thanks for any comments!

    • My dog (35KGs and all muscle) gets aggressive when another dog is excited. So far she has instigated 4 attacks on other excited dogs. All I can do it keep her on a short lead and away from other dogs, but I know that is a negative attitude. What can I do? Even in training circumstances she can launch an attack.

    • My dog, who is usually very friendly and happy, growled at another dog today. We walked by the dog two times, once coming and once going. She didn’t growl the first time we passed, just leash-pulled and tried to investigate. The second time she growled. She hasn’t had any bad experiences with other dogs, so I was thinking it was maybe something about the other dog she didn’t like.

    • Hi, my little Shih Tzu gets along with girl/boy dogs that are her size and is cautious of large breed dogs! The same as I am! I’m scared of large dogs. I have had people I know and strangers have their little dog get attacked by a large breed dog and killed/die in hospital!!💔 So,I say love the large dogs from a distance but stay away from my dog-unless I can tell in 10seconds if your is a gentle dog!! Not a strong Alpha Male or aggressive dog!! I’m Vegetarian and love All Animals but I’m not going to Risk My Dogs Life just so I’m not Rude to the dog/mommy daddy! By having to stop and say hi on the street to a strangers dog!! Some large dogs not all!! See small dogs as Prey!! As food! Or have aggression for various reasons!! Just my opinion! And Expirences! I suggest if you do have an aggressive dog please get Phychiatric/ Behaviour help!! I would never want a dog of any size be hurt or killed!💖

    • There’s one dog in my building that my dog Milo does not like. Every time we see them the hair on his back goes up and he immediately turns aggressive and leaps towards the dog to fight. Milo is a golden retriever and cocker spaniel mix (also neutered). We have had him since he was 7 weeks old and since then has been to puppy training, socials and had regular at home play dates to get him socialized. He is very friendly and loves people and other dogs alike. So it’s very strange to me that he acts this way towards this one dog. It’s like he senses something not right or something off about the owners energy. Not sure… any ideas??

    • Although as my dog ages and from being attacked in the past she is now fear aggressive with some dogs. It’s funny that she likes large bold male dogs that don’t take offense when she talks at them but another female not so much a fan.

    • My dog jessie, a pomsky, was well socialized as a pup and has always been friendly and no problems but I find as shes gotten older (shes 5 now) she seems to show warning behaviour to overexcited dogs and puppy’s.. I wouldn’t say it was aggressive and shes never snapped just seems like shes correcting them if they’re not respecting her boundaries. Shes now also not interesting in play.. she’ll greet and just move on. I think the husky in her just wants to keep moving forward but I wonder if this is normal?

    • My friends 9 year old dog Ariel (pit bull/am. Staff breed variety) is very dog aggressive but loves all people, for someone odd reason, Ariel loves my dog Ruby (french bulldog), she will lay with Ruby, play with her, share food and water and treats with her even sleep with her at night. Which is great, because it makes my friend really happy she can be a normal dog and do dog things with my dog when we hangout all together. But we’re both Wondering why it may be that she doesn’t like any other dogs except mine?

    • My dog Archie a Springer spaniel, collie cross has developed a very strong dislike of labradoodles. He is 61/2 years old and we feel it may be scent that is stimulating him. Today he attacked one in a local park. With other breeds he either ignores or is friendly; we’re baffled and upset

    • I have a three year old female rat terrier. She has a group of dogs she likes and plays with on a regular basis. Some are small and some are large. But she’s always aggressive when meeting a new dog. She loves humans. Also she’s aggressive even toward the dogs she likes if she’s on a leash or in our golf cart and another dog tries to get on board.

    • We have a 7 month old jack Russell – very friendly with all other dogs at all times EXCEPT cavapoo puppies. Just wants to attack them – and literally only them. Don’t know if it’s because they a fluffy and excitable but it is becoming a problem. Any tips

    • i found a 4 week old puppy on the side of the road about a year ago and took her in. she’s always gotten along with my two other dogs (both of my older dogs are male and all three have been neutered and spayed) but within the last 4 or so months, the now 1-year-old puppy has suddenly become agressive to one of my boys. he is much bigger than her, but she stares him down, deters him from sitting on the couches, and occasionally snaps at him. however with my other dog, who is also much bigger than her, she is very playful and friendly and likes to snuggle up with him for naps. what could be causing this sudden agression towards only one of her brothers?

    • This is a great article. I’ve always said all the kids on the playground don’t have to like each other. We just recently had someone move into the neighborhood with a Pitt mix. I have a blue nose Pitt and Shepard Pitt mix. Immediate dislike. The new dog is over excited, owner does not have control, when we walk by her dog lunges at the windows and is always barking. She said her other dog had attacked this one twice also. I tried a slow intro with one on one and her dog immediately lunged and bit mine, intro over. I feel bad for the dog, lack of exercise, no recall if it gets off leash, nervous owner who makes excuses. We avoid all contact.

    • My dog only reacts barks and seeks out my neighbors dog smells him from a mile away and goes in a barking craze try’s to run to that dog just to bark at him. but everywhere else even at the park he’s great with all other dogs everyone at the dog park that sees him love how he listens. he listens when I tell him to come back wait for me and other stuff even started walking off leash to the dog park for months now. I don’t understand y it’s only my neighbors dog that he does this with.

    • I have 3 huskies and a chorkie for whatever reason the small one has taken a dislike to the other 3 I no there is a size difference and all but the huskies have shown time and time again that they are not going to do anything to him he growls and barks and even has gone for them I am a bit worried that they will only take it for so long and then there will be retaliation

    • My female Ridgeback has taken dislike to a chocolate female Labrador when they walk her through our off leash park my girl will stop playing with her friends and chase her away but not with other dogs then stops and comes back to me. Doesn’t happen every time.

    • My dog (GSD-male) and my moms dog (Bully-male) used to be best buds. They would eat, sleep, and play together. They were peas in a pod. Now one dog growls as a result the other dog starts fighting. I don’t understand what happened to them. We have two others the same bullies one boy one girl and my dog gets along just fine with them. Also my dog will sometimes gets into it with my grandparents dog(Yorki/dachshund-male) Their dog usually comes at him first but my dogs always gets the repercussions because “He’s bigger and he will kill him” they say. He gets along with the German short hair pointer as well. Anyone have any suggestions?

    • My 3 year old mix bred dog goes to the same dog park every day. There is a young dog that comes to the park once in a while that is very submissive. It will lay on its back when my dog gets near. My dog then growls and pounces on it and opens her mouth at the other dogs neck. I pull her off immediately, leach her and leave. I have spoke with the other dogs owner and he blames my dog. I asked him when he will be at the park, but he states he can come and go as he pleases. I would like to simply avoid this submissive dog, but this dog will show up when we are there. Is there something more I can do to train my dog not to do this?

Leave a Reply to Tina Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 Subscribe to new posts