Your dog might be a wonderful companion that’s always happy to see you and be in your presence. But you may have noticed that their happy-go-lucky usual self is only reserved for you, and when they find themselves in the company of other dogs, they act distant, shy, or even aggressive.
It certainly is confusing to see such contrasting behaviors which naturally can make you wonder why do some dogs not like other dogs?
Your dog might dislike other dogs because of their smell, or they are intimidated by their size and posture. Past negative experiences with dogs can make your dog fearful or aggressive, and insufficient socializing and training can lead to defensiveness and territorial behaviors.
It’s not uncommon for dogs to be apprehensive around other dogs and there are plenty of things from their past as well as their present that can affect this, so let’s take a look at all the possible reasons!
How Do You Know Your Dog Doesn’t Like Other Dogs?
Not all of your dog’s actions come from a place of aggression towards other dogs, and just because they’re shy or avoid being social doesn’t mean they’re acting out or being aggressive.
It is however important to understand your dog’s body language, and the early signs of aggression before the interaction escalate into something ugly.
Some of the common signals include:
- Hard staring at the other dog.
- Forward leaning posture.
- Ears are erect and pointing forward.
- The lips are pushed upwards, revealing teeth.
- Voicing their aggression by growling, snarling, snapping, and barking.
- The tail is stiff and held up.
- The hair is standing up.
- They are pulling the lead towards the other dog.
As your dog becomes more afraid or agitated by the presence of the other dog you might notice them expressing these signals excessively and more intensely. They might even appear submissive with their tail tucked, they might crouch and back away, hiding between your legs.
I also want to point out that aggression between dogs isn’t necessarily uncommon or unusual in any way, but there should also be a limit as to how extreme this behavior should be.
Fortunately, we have the power to change how our dogs perceive other dogs and that’s what we’ll be exploring here!
Why Do Some Dogs Not Like Other Dogs?
If you notice your dog react negatively when other dogs are around then there are a number of possible reasons that can trigger this reaction.
To help your dog become more social or at least indifferent to other dogs you’ll need to explore these triggers to help you make the right changes in their training and possibly environment.
Reason 1: Lack Of Socialization
The fact that your sweet pooch dislikes other dogs might have to do with them not being properly socialized and trained.
The socialization period is the time in a puppy’s life when they get to develop relationships and learn how to behave with people and other pets like dogs or cats.
When a puppy is taken away from their mother and littermates before 6 to 8 weeks of age their social skills can be affected.
According to Debra Horwitz, DVM, “The primary socialization period for dogs begins at 3 weeks of age and is already diminishing by 12 weeks. Peak sensitivity is at 6 – 8 weeks. Fears begin to emerge around 8 weeks of age, so that beyond 12 weeks of age, fearfulness may surpass sociability.”
If your dog wasn’t introduced to different people, animals, environments, and situations then their social interactions during adulthood can suffer.
But even if your dog was socialized at an early age they can still regress and become fearful if socialization training wasn’t practiced properly or at all during adulthood.
For those of you who have had your dog since they were a puppy then perhaps the time you spend socializing them and introducing them to other dogs wasn’t enough.
This isn’t uncommon, especially for those of us who live in remote areas, or there aren’t any dog parks where you can let your dog become used to the presence of other dogs and make friends.
Older dogs that have been adopted might have a sad story that explains their fearfulness and aggression. This doesn’t mean that your dog can’t heal or learn how to control these emotions. With proper training, you can help your dog become more open to meeting other dogs.
Reason 2: They Feel Scared
“Fear,” according to Erin Rakosky, DVM, “is the most common cause of aggression.”
Usually, when dogs feel scared, they will run away, but when we take our dogs for a walk on a leash this isn’t always an option. Instead, they might choose to snap back at the dog they perceive as a threat.
Dr. Jerry Klein also states that “fear is a defense mechanism and isn’t something we have to eliminate entirely. Wolves and other wild canids rely on fear to keep them alive, but when fearful behavior poses dangers to the dog or other family members, we have to intervene.”
If you notice that your dog acts out when another dog is approaching, then look at their body language. Are they shaking, whining, or cowering at the sight of another dog?
There are multiple reasons your dog might feel scared when a dog is approaching. Lack of socialization can be one, or it could also be a phobia, an intense and persistent fear that is the result of previous experiences.
Your dog’s body language can warn you and help you distract them with a treat or by simply gently walking away from the other dog.
More so, retraining your dog and even yourself to new behavior patterns when meeting a fellow dog can help stop the fear cycle.
Reason 3: Negative Association
What you may be perceiving as aggression could also be reactivity, where your dog overreacts to certain situations like in this instance a certain dog, or dog traits.
If your dog has had an unpleasant experience with other dogs that have been aggressive or dominant towards them in the past, then it will be easy for them to become triggered.
When encountering dogs that are larger and stronger your little pooch can create a negative association and any other similar encounter will make them feel threatened and fearful.
It’s also possible that your dog has made a negative connection between encountering dogs at the dog park because of a previous traumatic experience.
Noticing what dogs your canine companion reacts to negatively and positively can help you work towards creating a positive association between your dog and others.
Reason 4: Your Dog Is Protective Of You
It’s also possible that your dog isn’t afraid of other dogs, but instead, they’re protective of their territory and that territory might include you.
This type of behavior is often referred to as resource guarding and it’s most likely that dogs inherited this from their wild ancestors that had to protect their resources in order to survive.
AKC also states that “there are body language signs to watch for when a dog is attempting to ‘guard’ an item. These include stiffening of the body over an item, a hard stare, ‘whale eye’ (when dogs show the whites of the eyes), lifting of lips, low growling, and baring of teeth.”
You may have noticed that this possessive aggression resurfaces when your friends that also have other dogs come over. Instead of being friendly, your pooch becomes grumpy and they’re ready to protect their home and their toys from the four-legged visitors. On the contrary, when your dog meets the same dogs outside they act all friendly and cute.
But no matter under which circumstances your dog feels possessive, the best way to help them get over this behavior is to desensitize them to the presence of other dogs so they don’t feel threatened.
Reason 5: It Could Be The Breed
As I’ve already mentioned above certain dog traits can be a deal-breaker when it comes to dog-friendship.
And while a dog’s personality is more important than their breed, it can still affect certain aspects of their behavior and more so their appearance.
Let’s say your dog was attacked by a German Shepherd or a French Bulldog when they were a puppy. This traumatic event could’ve left a bad impression on them and now whenever you encounter that one German Shepherd or Frenchy at the park your dog becomes tense and timid.
Certain sounds a dog breed makes can make your dog uncomfortable or confused. Short-nosed breeds can have distinct breathing that might sound like growling to your dog.
Boxers have a distinct posture where they lean forward, and for your dog, this might seem intimidating.
Reason 6: It’s The Gender
When we observe our dogs and their behavior, we often try to humanize them and use our own social constructs to place them in similar boxes.
And while gender might not play a major role in how your dog perceives you or how affectionate they can be, gender can have an impact on the relationships between dogs.
According to a study done by Stanley Coren Ph.D. female dogs are “much more intent upon exercising their dominance and while males can forgive an occasional transgression of canine protocol or a failure to recognize their status, females do not.”
If you have a female doggy then you might notice her being more apprehensive around certain dogs that happen to be also female. Dr. Coren says that fights between female dogs are more likely to occur.
This is why AKC also suggests that it’s best to adopt two dogs of the opposite sex.
However, it’s possible that your female dog has a dislike towards male dogs in particular if they had an unpleasant interaction with unneutered males.
Reason 7: It’s Part of Their Personality
Before I dive deeper into this reason, I do want to point out that being aggressive isn’t a personality trait but being less social is.
Dr. Jason Sweitzer explains that dogs have been bred to guard our livestock, and hunt and their social behaviors with other dogs didn’t really matter. He states that “dogs are no longer pack animals,” and adds “so it is not surprising to have antisocial dogs.”
Socializing and training can help your dog feel safe when other dogs are present, and you can tame their aggression, but this doesn’t mean they will become friends with other dogs.
Dogs are also great at reading canine body language and this can determine how much they like another dog and are ready to meet them.
Just like people, not all dogs are compatible, if your dog is shy then an overly-energetic dog can seem dominant or simply irritating to be around.
I think social people sometimes have a hard time understanding introverts. If your dog is more of a loner, and they mostly appreciate your own company and perhaps the friendship of one dog then there’s nothing wrong with that.
As long as your precious pup is happy, healthy and they are satisfied with their social life then there’s no need to change them.
Reason 8: They Don’t Like Their Smell
I think we can all agree that smell has an impact on most relationships, even if our sense of smell is weak we can still subconsciously find certain scents more pleasing than others.
Our dogs are no different, and as you can imagine they are far better at assessing their surroundings, other people, and dogs with the power of their noses.
Lynn Buzhardt, DVM explains that “they have more than 100 million sensory receptor sites in the nasal cavity as compared to 6 million in people, and the area of the canine brain devoted to analyzing odors is about 40 times larger than the comparable part of the human brain.”
Just by smelling other dogs, your pooch can tell what gender they are if they are happy, or aggressive and whether they are healthy.
If your dog doesn’t like other canines it doesn’t mean they find them stinky, but there might be something about their odor that they find off-putting.
More so your dog can sniff out a dog that’s potentially non-friendly and dominant without coming close to them then they’ll most likely choose to act submissive or equally aggressive.
Buzhardt also points out that “dogs also have a good scent memory that can identify other dogs they haven’t seen for years – and can remember which of them was the dominant member of the pair.”
Perhaps you think that your dog doesn’t like dogs in general, but if you keep going to the same park and meeting the same dogs then your dog simply doesn’t want to mingle with the locals.
Reason 9: It’s The Leash
When looking for the possible reasons behind your dog’s hostility it’s also important to look at our own behavior.
As a new dog owner during your first walks, you might’ve felt scared or nervous when other dogs approached your pooch. Perhaps you pulled on the leash causing a painful sensation or you abruptly changed course.
Dogs can act up when we feel nervous either to protect us or because they reflect our own emotions.
In those initial moments, your dog most likely sensed your state of mind, and if that only happened when other dogs were present or close by then it’s not surprising that they made that association.
I also want to mention leash aggression, which is when dogs are calm around people and other dogs when they’re off-leash but the moment you put them on the leash they become agitated and show signs of aggression when seeing other dogs.
According to AKC one way of fixing this issue is “off-leash interactions with dogs.” But it’s also important to add that you shouldn’t do this without a professional dog trainer that can teach you how to properly read your dog’s body language.
Reason 10: Your Dog Is Ill
Last but not least, I want to mention your dog’s health. Sudden changes and mood swings in your dog’s behavior can be the result of physical discomfort.
Dr. Jerry Klein, AKC chief veterinary officer says that “if the behavior is atypical and comes on unexpectedly, you may want to take your dog to your veterinarian for an exam to determine if there’s a medical cause.”
If your dog has experienced pain every time they met and played with other dogs then they will most likely start to avoid this interaction, they might even growl or snap at their former canine friend.
A change like this shouldn’t go unchecked, so make sure you do as Dr. Klein says and take your doggy for a vet visit.
But even if your dog is healthy over-aggression can be a psychological issue and your vet will also be able to advise you on how to deal with your dog and recommend a professional dog behaviorist.
Should I Be Worried If My Dog Doesn’t Like Other Dogs?
As dog parents, we want what’s best for our dogs. We want them to be happy and excited in all aspects of their life, and we kind of expect them to be like that with other dogs.
Dogs are often portrayed as overly joyous animals, and of course, they are and that’s why we love them, but that’s not all they are.
It’s important that we socialize our pups as early as possible, so they can see that the world around them isn’t scary or threatening and that we are there to protect them in case something bad happens.
We also need to be aware of their aggressive side, because no matter how sweet our dogs are they can still have an aggressive side to them that can emerge in stressful situations.
Punishing them for being dogs, and living beings aren’t the answer, making sure they have social opportunities and proper training is.
And I also want to add that not all dogs are social creatures. Some are less enthusiastic about other dogs and that’s ok.
Perhaps they haven’t found the one dog friend they can play with, or they simply enjoy spending those walks and games with you. Instead of worrying, we need to be observant and know when we need to intervene and help our dogs fulfill their social potential.
How To Get My Dog To Like Other Dogs?
Having a dog that doesn’t seek interactions with other dogs is not unusual or bad unless you sense that this behavior stems from your dog’s insecurities, and they behave aggressively.
If this is the case for you and your pooch then please don’t get discouraged because there is a solution to this problem!
1. Observe The Pattern Of Aggression
Before jumping into extensive training sessions or signing up for a class it could be helpful to figure out why your dog dislikes his brethren.
Your dog’s age, health, and temperament are some of the factors you’ll need to consider.
Try to also notice how you behave when your dog notices other dogs, are you pulling on the leash, do you feel nervous?
Perhaps you react negatively when your dog barks at another dog, and your negative reaction or your nervousness reinforces your dog’s belief that they need to protect you or that the other dog is a threat.
If it’s possible try to identify the key triggers that make your dog either avoidant of other dogs or hostile. By finding out the cause of this behavior you can improve your communication and your doggy’s training.
2. Socialize Your Dog
A major step in changing your dog’s behavior towards other dogs is socializing them and that includes both puppies, young dogs, and even dogs that missed early socialization.
While early socialization is important it’s understandable that not all dogs had the opportunity to grow in ideal conditions, and it’s our responsibility as dog parents to help them heal those wounds.
PreventiveVet has some wonderful tips to help unsocialized dogs and they urge you to look for certified professional dog trainers that can help you work through remedial socialization effectively and most importantly safely.
Social distancing is also important in order to avoid triggers and identifying the right reinforcement tools that your dog responds to are some of their other tips that can help your dog stay calm.
It’s also important to choose a safe environment to walk your dog. If your neighborhood dog park is crowded during the afternoons choose a different time to walk them so they don’t get to overwhelmed.
Similarly, during group dog training classes talk to the trainer about your dog’s issues so they can put you in a less crowded group that might be more suitable for your dog’s needs.
I also want to point out that the goal of socialization isn’t necessarily to make your dog the heart of the dog party but to get them to feel comfortable and relaxed when other dogs are present and perhaps help them make one or two dog friends.
2. Train Your Dog
While socialization should be part of your training process you should also use other techniques to help your dog.
If stranger dogs are a source of anxiety or fear for your pooch, it could be because they associate them with something bad, but you can’t choose to lock your dog away or avoid walks as the solution.
To change these negative feelings you should use counterconditioning, meaning you’ll need to turn these negative feelings into positive ones.
According to Stephanie Gibeault a professional dog trainer, “counterconditioning involves pairing every presentation of the stimulus with something your dog finds fabulous. It doesn’t matter what that is, as long as it’s wonderful from your dog’s point of view.”
You’ll most likely have to start slow and build up. You might find that your dog doesn’t care about the treat you’re offering when other dogs are present and they are already displaying hostile behavior. So finding the right timing between your dog noticing the other dog and receiving the treat is really crucial.
Through proper training you’ll also need to make sure your dog responds to sit-down commands and that they’re not ignoring you. This way you can use a treat, or a toy if they’re more into that and the command to create a positive association between them.
This whole process of desensitization, which Gibeault explains as “the process of getting your dog used to something by starting at low levels of the stimulus then gradually working up to the final all-out event,” can take a long time depending on your dog’s personality and fear of other dogs, but through constant repetition, they can get over it.
3. Avoid Confrontations
While training is the key to helping your dog become more tolerant or even like other dogs I think one more thing that can help your dog’s progress in reducing these negative experiences by avoiding the triggers that you are aware of.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that your dog doesn’t like certain dogs at the dog park, or it’s a specific breed that gets them all timid. If that’s the case then a head-on confrontation should be avoided at all costs, at least until your dog’s training and socialization are at a good level.
In situations where you can’t avoid the dog your own pooch doesn’t like then try to calmly change routes or move in a way that you’re blocking the other dog so they can’t get to your canine companion that’s sitting or standing behind you.
Since pulling the leash in an abrupt manner can make your dog react negatively try to be aware of that, as well as your body language and your breathing. Try to stay calm and use the above training techniques to get your dog’s attention away from their nemesis.
4. Create Positive Associations When Meeting Other Dogs
Whether your dog meets other dogs during group training classes or you’re passing by another dog at the park try to make each experience as positive as possible to at least achieve neutrality.
Positive reinforcement is important to help your dog create new emotions around that negative stimulus, but it’s also important that you don’t reinforce the bad habit by pulling the leash without realizing it or shouting or punishing your dog if they fail to behave.
Set small goals first, like turning each dog encounter into something uneventful, make your dog feel that nothing interesting is happening.
Use their favorite treats or whatever makes your dog excited and shape their perception. You can either make your own treats or you could try the Wag Chewy Whole Muscle American Jerky Dog Treat that are also available on Amazon.
It’s made of chicken that’s sourced in America and it’s oven-baked, which gives it a delicious flavor that should positively interrupt your dog’s attention from any approaching dog as early as possible, before the fear, nervousness, or aggression kicks in.
5. Keep A Distance From Rude Owners And Dogs
As I already discussed above avoiding confrontation can help reduce triggers and by slowly introducing these triggers in a controlled and safe environment you can recondition your dog.
But certain triggers can be too powerful and not because of your dog but because of other dogs that never learned how to behave themselves or behave in an energetic even aggressive manner.
I believe that boundaries need to be respected whether you’re greeting a fellow human or a dog. So, it might be a good idea to let the other owner know how their dog can approach your pooch.
If you notice that certain people don’t care about making your dog comfortable and they constantly let their dog behave in a rude manner then it’s best to avoid their company.
6. Be Mindful Of Signs Of Aggression
Whether your dog is engaging in dog play, or one of the dogs seems timid and hostile being observant of their body language is a must.
Even the most docile pups can turn on each other and their playful interaction can easily escalate into a real fight. If you know that your doggy is more sensitive and doesn’t like other dogs then you should be even more vigilant.
I would also suggest keeping your distance from naturally dominant-looking dogs or dogs that seem to be nosy and energetic.
Even as your dog’s training progresses and you notice them being more and more comfortable around other dogs it’s still advisable to keep an eye on the movement of their tail and ears, the presence of direct eye contact, and growling. By detecting the early signs of aggression, you can remove your dog before things get messy.
7. Be Patient
Finally, I want to take a moment to remind you that training is a process that never stops but it does get easier. Don’t expect positive results overnight because each dog is different, and their trauma or fear can be greater than you think.
Being an introvert myself I understand that not everyone is born social and for some of us humans and dogs, it takes more effort. Your dog might never learn to adore other dogs, but they can at least learn to tolerate their presence.
Focus on building mutual trust, learning their body language, and understanding your dog’s personality.
Why Does My Dog Hate Puppies?
There are a number of reasons an older dog might dislike puppies, it could be because they simply don’t like other dogs or it could be specifically because of the age difference.
It’s not really that surprising since puppies are usually very energetic, and they go about their day exploring the world around them and pushing other people’s and dogs’ boundaries. If your dog wants some alone time a puppy won’t be able to read social and physical cues.
Just look at this little Frenchy, he doesn’t have time to read the room!
For those of you who have an older dog and you’ve also adopted a puppy there might be jealousy at play and territorial aggression. A puppy can also change an older dog’s routine they will steal the attention that was rightfully theirs, possibly their toys as well.
This doesn’t mean your dog hates puppies, but they are certainly annoyed by the sudden changes and the intrusiveness.
Our precious dogs are our best friends and we want them to feel comfortable in this world and the environment we’ve created for them. But the outside world is oftentimes outside of our control and the presence of other dogs can, unfortunately, cause distress to our precious companions.
I know you would love your dog to be carefree when they’re around other dogs, but that’s not always the case. Thankfully we can change their perception and help them tolerate and even love some dogs.
How about your dog? Why do you think they don’t like other dogs and how you’re dealing with their antisocial behavior?