Does My Dog Need Friends?
Published on Thursday, 28 October 2010
Dogs are a social species so they definitely need friends. But whether that has to include other dogs is debatable. While some dogs’ lives may be enriched by dog companionship, other dogs’ may thrive on human companionship or both.
But what we can consider here is the breed of dog you have. Some breeds such as Pit Bulls were bred to fight other dogs and may not be sociable dogs, other dogs like the Beagles were bred to live in large groups and thus thrive on company. Having said that, breed type is by no means the only determinant of a dog’s need for canine company, but it often plays a role.
Generally, most dogs that have been socialised well do get tremendous enjoyment from spending time with their own species. Hanging out with familiar dog buddies and making new acquaintances is the canine equivalent of how we enjoy the company of old friends and the stimulation of meeting new people. Regular dog contact also keeps dogs’ social skills sharp, making them much safer and more comfortable to be around other dogs.
However, while human companionship alone can often meet a dog’s social needs well enough to prevent visible signs or social deprivation, doing so is still depriving the dog of a rich social life with their own species, at least for those who clearly enjoy each other’s company.
So how do you find out if your dog who is currently being deprived of a craving for canine companionship? It’s easy, just ask him! Make sure he’s already getting plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and social attention within his current lifestyle without socialisation with other dogs. Then offer him some regular dogtime and see how he reacts to it. Does he get especially excited when he knows he’s going to the dog park? Does he sleep more soundly than usual after a doggie date? Does he seem less dependent on the people in his life after a good bout of playfighting with his buddies? If you see that he thrives on the fur-based social stimulation, then that is your proof that, while dog friends are not an absolute necessity, they sure do make his day.