Just like humans, dogs are highly social creatures. Most canines love the company of other dogs as well as people. It gives them the opportunity to experience new things, smell new scents, and enjoy some playtime with one another. During their daily lives, our four-legged family members spend a lot of time alone at home while we’re at work, with not much in terms of entertainment, other than a few toys. Similar to humans, dogs get bored and lonely, which explains their over the top greetings after just a few hours of not seeing each other as well as the overwhelming joy when they see or meet another dog. But it turns out there is a thin line between what qualifies as a healthy dose of enthusiasm and wild, over-excitement.
The Root of the Behavior
Just like the ancestors they descended from, dogs are pack animals. They love being around their kind and love socializing. This is the primary reason dogs get excited to see other dogs. It’s both normal and natural for our four-legged buddies to get excited when they spot other dogs as it happens instinctively. This is especially the case when they are younger and at the peak of discovering the world and others around them. Although excitement at the sight of other dogs is common and healthy, over-excitement and bad behavior isn’t. Puppyhood and natural instinct combined can equal to not only an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm but also said over-eagerness, leash pulling, and other poor puppy manners. Hence why many experts recommend dog training and socialization at an early stage or as soon as it is possible, especially if you see excessive pouncing or pulling.
The second reason why dogs get super excited to see their buddies is that they are generally incredibly curious animals. When your dog spots another dog from a distance, his greatest desire becomes to meet and smell the other dog to find out where they have been, what they ate, and to see if they want to play. Although this trait is common among all dog breeds, some are more social than others. Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Springer Spaniels, and Beagles are all known to want to make friends wherever they go.
Lack of socialization is another reason your dog might be so overjoyed to meet another dog. If he’s the only dog in the house or he doesn’t really spend much time with others of his kind, it might be the reason why he goes wild for some quality time with other dogs. Your dog’s hyperactivity might also be caused by sexual excitement, especially if he has not been neutered. This is most often characterized by attempts of a pursuit of the other dog, usually being of the opposite sex.
Lastly, your dog might be getting excited due to having too much pent-up energy. Though universal, this can be particularly seen in breeds that have a tendency to get over-excited. These include Border Collies, Siberian Huskies, Australian Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers to name a few. All of these dogs require a lot of regular physical exercise and time outdoors to remain happy, healthy, and well-behaved.
Encouraging the Behavior
Whether or not you should encourage your dog’s excited behavior when seeing other dogs largely depends on his level of excitement. If during a meet and greet your dog wags his tail, has a smile on his face, all four paws firmly on the ground, as well as a friendly and approachable demeanor, you can defiantly praise his great manners. You should encourage his excitement and friendliness towards other dogs as long as it’s polite and safe. If your dog is able to remain calm during an interaction with another dog it should be rewarded with treats, praising and petting!
However, if your canine companion is overly hyper or demanding, pulling towards other dogs or worse, pouncing uncontrollably as if his brain has been switched off and his only mission is to sniff and play with the other dog then that behavior should be discouraged. Though a certain level of excitement is good and healthy, a dog that can’t stay calm around another dog is not a well trained or a happy dog. Lots of pet owners confuse over-excitement with happiness. But as the saying goes, a calm dog is a happy dog. This is why regardless of age or breed, socialization is extremely important in raising a well-behaved dog. The hyper state can also be caused by pent-up energy, thus it is best to tire your dog out before taking him to the dog park for any doggy interactions, as well as keep him on the leash until his behavior has been worked on and he can be trusted.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Dogs are predatory pack animals that are also territorial and have a very strong sense of hierarchy. Therefore socialization is not only important for your dog’s manners but also for his and others safety. While most dogs love bumping into their friends or making new ones, others might be more eager to size up a stranger and even provoke a fight. Your dog should not be pulling on the leash, barking at the other dog, or calling the shots during your walk, regardless if he is doing that to make a friend or a foe. If your dog gets out of control around other dogs, it is recommended for him to see a dog trainer. To avoid that, praise his good and calm behavior from a young age and introduce him to other well-mannered dogs to learn from.
While a certain level of curiosity and enthusiasm is to be expected, an overly excited dog is not only likely to chase off potential playmates but he might also put himself and others in danger by violating the other dog’s personal space. It is essential for dogs to be able to remain calm around other animals, not demand their attention or playtime if it is unrequited to avoid forcing owners to become rufferees. Socialization at an early age and dog training are the answers helping you raise a pawsitively well-behaved dog!