Thursday, December 3, 2009

Professor Dexter on Good Manners

Dexter's Corner

"Will he ever play with other dogs?"

That's a question I get asked many times as a canine behavior counselor. Sometimes dogs just don't like other dogs. This can happen with any dog of any breed.

Some people may want their dogs to love all other dogs, but their dog may not want that. Usually this is something that can be very easily managed, unless it's really inappropriate and over-the-top aggression that is not Pit Bull or other breed-temperament correct.

Good leash manners classes really help, as do daily walks in environments on-leash that help desensitize the dog to other dogs while on leash. The dog can at least learn to have good manners around other dogs while on leash and do very well.

It is normal for dogs to vary greatly in their reactions, good or bad, to other dogs. If a dog doesn't like other dogs, this doesn't make him a bad dog at all. Usually these guys are really, really super with people.

Here at Our Pack, we see dogs as individuals, not lumped into a category. Some dogs really like other dogs. Some of these come from fight busts. Others that don't like other dogs may come from a shelter or be someone's pet. OR, dogs from fight busts can be very sensitive to other dogs. Whether from a bust or a shelter or a home, this varies. So making an assessment first is key.

Many times we see a gray area where the dog is not aggressive but not particularly skilled, either. This is true of many dogs that have come from abuse or neglect cases. They didn't get a chance to go to puppy-to-puppy "social school", and so they never learned to greet, play, interact and interpret communication signals from other dogs. This is where their environment has sort of created a malnourished soul, if you will. Genetics may influence behavior as well.

Many dogs are great at teaching these dogs the right way to communicate, in fact we're often better at it than people. It's in them to do the right thing, and a nice balanced dog is the perfect one to bring it out.

Here's Hailey after working with Jakob for a while...well, I think he did pretty well after some instruction. At first, he didn't know what the heck to do.

Hailey and Jakob were slowly introduced and set up for success. They got to know each other gradually, and we guided their interactions so the dogs were encouraged to play with each other appropriately and reinforced for that. (Click here to learn more about dog-to-dog intros.)

Note: All play sessions should be supervised with all dogs of all breeds. Remember to separate animals when you leave as well. Call a professional if you are having problems.

Professor Dexter
Expert in Dog Behavior Challenges
Shelter Volunteer
Well Loved Family Member


  1. I personally feel that people do not grasp the vast complexity of the canine personalities. I'm sure my parents, at times, have wished I was more social, perhaps that I was in sports and played better with others etc. etc, - but everyone is different.
    It is the same with dogs.

    My mother's Yellow Lab is certainly courteous and friendly to all dogs, but to my mother and I - we see the stress in her as she interacts with new dogs.

    My mother & father's pit bull really does not like other dogs at all other than her own lab. We see she is obviously extremely protective of her space and HER lab friend. The only other dog she got along with was my pit bull. (after much following of your advice above)

    And then there was my pit bull. Somewhere in between, her aggression not as strong, but neither were her good manners. She was very indifferent to other dogs after a while. Neither socializing, nor attacking. She simply wanted to be left alone. She would occasionally play with my parent's dogs, and was a tad social with other family and friend dogs, but really - she had no interest.

    That's just the brief stories of 3 dogs. There are as many personalities as there are in humans.

    So I never understood why people try to force their dog into a personality that is not natural for them. SURE I wished my Indiana was the dog park sensation, but really, I wanted her to be happy and secure, not popular. And as it turns out, we had some terrific moments in our corners of the parks away from the crowd!

    But that's just me.

  2. NICE Ingrid. Thank you for sharing this!!!! And I'm glad the advice has helped.
    Dr. Dexter

  3. It's true people don't understand how dogs just aren't always going to get along with other dogs. When we were looking for our second dog, we had to look at several dogs, and do introductions, to make sure it would be a good fit for everybody. We're lucky we found a pair that's a good fit.

  4. Yes, it's also a chemistry thing just like it is with people.

  5. I agree that not all dog would want to get along with other dogs and as a dog owner we need to understand that, I believe in some way that they just like human, and as a human there are times that we don't want to get along with others. But I am sure that time will come they will associate with other dogs.

  6. I wish all dogs had teachers like dr. dexter and happy hailey.