By Tim Falk
Published: 03/07/2022, edited: 03/07/2022
Some pups simply love being around other dogs. These social butterflies of the canine world are friendly, easy-going, and relish every chance they get to spend time with their four-legged friends.
But not every dog feels quite as comfortable when mixing with their canine counterparts. Some will merely tolerate other dogs, others will only get along well with certain types of dogs, and some pups don’t really enjoy mixing with other dogs at all.
But if your dog isn’t always the friendliest and most sociable pooch at the dog park, don’t despair. It’s “pawfectly” normal for your dog not to get on like a house on fire with every dog they meet — just like you’re not going to be friends with everyone you meet either.
Dogs have different personality types that affect just how sociable they are with other pups. Let’s take a closer look at how to work out your dog’s personality type, and what you can do to help your dog feel as comfortable as possible in social situations.
There are 4 basic personality types you can use to assess just how sociable your pooch is with other dogs:
Here’s what each of these labels means for your fur-baby.
These dogs love being around other dogs. For them, every four-legged stranger is just a friend they haven't met yet. They’re friendly and easy-going, and they won’t be put out if confronted by rude or intolerant behavior from another dog.
If you’re a first-time pet parent, you may expect your fur-baby to be dog social. But while many puppies are classified as dog social, that doesn’t mean your pet will stay that way for the rest of their life.
Dog-social pooches love trips to the dog park and doggy playdates. However, their outgoing nature and enthusiasm for social interaction can be too much for less tolerant dogs to handle, so your pup will need to learn the polite way to interact with dogs that don’t share their sociable nature.
You’ll also find plenty of ways to put a smile on your pup’s face in our guide to the top activities for sociable dogs.
Once they reach adulthood, many puppies will transition to the dog tolerant category. These dogs generally get along well with most other canines they meet. They’re not constantly on the lookout for new friends like dog-social dogs, but they're also not highly strung or keen to avoid other pups.
Dog-tolerant canines may be playful and friendly with some dogs they meet, and will still be calm and relaxed around others. They’re also generally cool as a cucumber when confronted with rude behavior, and are pretty effective at communicating and interacting with other canines.
Dogs in this category may not require as much management as other canines, but supervising their interactions is still important.
This is another common personality type among adult dogs. As the name suggests, dog-selective pooches are a little more selective about the canines they choose as their friends. These dogs don’t want to be friends with just any old pooch — they prefer to pick and choose their canine companions.
Pooches with this personality often like to be in charge and play by their own rules when interacting with other pets. And while they get on well with some dogs, they’re less tolerant of specific types of dogs or behaviors they don’t like and can be quick to let their displeasure show.
For dog-selective dogs, coming face to face with a new dog while on the leash can be hard to handle. These canines also require a higher level of supervision and their introductions to other dogs will need to be carefully managed.
If your dog just isn’t all that keen on spending time with other dogs, chances are they fit into this category. Dog-aggressive pooches will only have a very small number of doggy friends, or none at all.
These dogs are not known for their stellar social skills and tend to have a short fuse when interacting with other pooches. It’s rare to find a dog-aggressive puppy and not all that common in adult dogs.
If your fur-baby fits in the dog aggressive category, you’ll need a consistent approach to training and a good supply of patience. It may also mean avoiding trips to the dog park and carefully managing any interaction with other dogs.
Now that you’ve read the profiles of the 4 dog personality types, you’ve probably got a good idea of which category fits your dog the best.
However, it’s important to understand that your dog’s sociability level will change as they age. While your fur-baby may be as dog social as they come when they’re a playful 6-month-old puppy, they may become a little more selective about the canine friends they choose as an adult.
There are a few other factors at play too, including:
Let's take a closer look at each one.
The experiences — both positive and negative — your dog has had in previous social situations will impact their approach to future social encounters, and making every effort to socialize your dog properly will stand them in good stead.
If a dog is in pain or unwell, they’ll probably have a much lower level of tolerance for other pooches, so it may also be worth getting them checked by a veterinarian for underlying health problems.
Genetics are also important. If your dog is from a breed that was originally developed as a lapdog, for example, or to work closely alongside humans, they might prefer the company of people to dogs. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The crucial thing to remember is that no matter which personality type your dog is, it’s OK. There’s nothing “wrong” with your dog if they don’t love being around every dog all the time — this is perfectly normal. Just because they fit into a certain category now, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve their sociability in the future.
So instead of worrying about the personality label attached to your pooch, the key is to take some simple steps to help ensure that they enjoy safe and stress-free interactions with other pups.
No matter where your pet fits on the dog personality type spectrum, there’s lots you can do to help improve their social skills.
Socialize your dog
First on the list is socializing your dog. While the most critical socialization period occurs early in your dog’s life while they’re still a puppy, you can still socialize an adult dog. Giving your pooch positive exposure to new situations and settings can increase their confidence when they’re faced with the unfamiliar in the future.
Learn their triggers
Over time, you’ll gradually develop an understanding of what your dog likes and dislikes, which situations they’re comfortable with and which ones they aren’t. You’ll come to understand which areas of behavior your dog needs to work on, and which social situations will require careful management and supervision on your part.
Manage your dog's interactions
Managing your dog’s interactions is also crucial. For example, if your pooch is dog selective, you might want to set up playdates with pooches you know your dog gets along well with, rather than subjecting them to a trip to the dog park.
If your pet is dog aggressive or doesn’t like meeting new dogs while on the leash, you’ll need to take special care to manage their introduction to any new animal. And if you have a dog-social canine, you’ll need to monitor their interactions closely to make sure they’re not putting other dogs in stressful situations.
Watch your dog's body language around other dogs
Finally, while supervising your dog in social settings, remember to watch their body language closely. If you know the body language cues that indicate when your dog is happy, playful, anxious, fearful, or stressed, you’ll be ready to intervene before the situation can get out of hand.
It’s all about supporting your dog to be their best self. If you can do that, you’ll go a long way towards ensuring successful social interactions for your dog.
Need some help teaching your dog good manners? Book a one-on-one session with an in-home dog trainer on the Wag! app today!
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