It is always beautiful seeing your dog playing nice with other dogs at the park. The joy on your dog’s face is mood-enhancing, and the good part is that as they make new friends, they also stimulate their body and mind indirectly.
But unfortunately, not all dogs are naturally social. Yea, some dogs are born a bit anti-social and they don’t easily get along with others, while others became socially standoffish after some bad social experience.
To keep it simple, some main culprits for less-friendly social behavior in dogs include:
- Inadequate socialization
- Social maturity
- Upsetting social experiences
- Inappropriate socialization
- Breed tendencies
- Playstyle mismatches
However, you can train your dog to play nicely with other dogs. Yea, you can teach them to play appropriately from a young age. Puppies tend to teach each other what’s acceptable and what’s not. They yelp when a playmate behaves in a way they dislike, and this way, they learn good interaction with each other.
Simple ways to teach your dog to play nice
There are simple approaches you can adopt to train both puppies and adult dogs on how to play nicely with other dogs.
Build a foundation of obedience
Before attempting to take your dog to the park to associate with unknown dogs, ensure you have a foundation of obedience. This way, they will understand your voice when you call on them, and this helps to prevent chasing your dog through the park.
You need to take note that obedience is a major part of the teaching process and you need to be sure your dog is obedient before you allow your dog play with others.
Would your dog remember their recall if there are distractions around? Would your dog listen to you even when they are provoked to fight every dog in sight? Answer these questions sincerely, and if you answer “NO” you need to suspend going to the park and work on reinforcing obedience.
After building a strong foundation of obedience, you’ll not face much stress guiding your dog toward more appropriate play.
Stop every rough play
You need to watch your dog closely to observe every move they make as they play at the park with another dog. If they’re trying to get into any form of rough play, ensure you stop them. This is more reason why you need to understand your pup’s body language before leaving them with other dogs.
The moment they get overly aggressive or excited, that’s enough cue to quickly step in and calm them down. Other signs you should watch out for include low growling, stiff body movements, or a fixated intensity. However, you just need to learn what’s “normal” for your dog and stop them when things are getting extreme. This way, they learn that getting overly excited could result in a timeout.
Shun every bad behavior
Dogs are very intelligent and they keep up with a behavior that you don’t stop. So when you continue to allow them to play rough, they think it’s allowed and can even grow worse. Stopping things right before it goes bad is important, but you also need to be careful about the kinds of situations your dog is exposed to.
If you observe your dog is always overly excited in big groups, don’t take them to the part at peak times. And if you know there’s a particular dog that brings out the rough play in your dog, do your best to avoid those dogs. This way, your dog will not be in a situation that they are not prepared to handle appropriately.
Train your dog to obey the “Settle” Cue
Apart from the come, sit, and stay, one important cue to teach your dog is to settle. This is important to call your dog to order when they are ready to show another dog who’s the king at the park, or when they bouncing in anticipation for dinner.
When you tell your dog “settle,” they should know it’s time to calm down. You can start to teach your dog this behavior in a no-distraction zone. You say the word “settle” and maybe use a treat to lure them to the spot you want them to be. A sit or down position is okay for this training.
The moment your dog starts responding to the lure, you can make them wait for some seconds before giving out the reward. But if they are anything less than calm, keep on repeating the training.
With time, you can try to take your dog to the sidewalk, and later to the park where he can meet with other dogs. However, ensure they are consistently listening before allowing them to meet other dogs. The goal is to keep your dog obedient no matter what’s going on around them and have them calm down on cue.
Socializing a puppy
Puppies are naturally friendly and they tend to accept other dogs easily. Their minds are open in the first 4 to 5 months, making them absorb experiences that will stay with them throughout their life. That’s more reason why you need to socialize your newly adopted puppy with other dogs to they learn to become comfortable and not react with fear or aggression.
Basically, all pups should stay with their mum until they are 8 weeks old. Thereafter, you can start socializing them, but with much caution.
Remember, young puppies do not have a mature immune system, so places like the dog park might be risky for them. To be on a safe side, the ASPCA recommends play sessions in your home and car rides through a variety of environments. You can also enroll them for puppy classes or let them play with other puppies that you know are healthy and friendly.
Socializing an adult dog
The training you give to your puppy is different from what you give to your adult dog. Puppies tend to easily get along with groups of strange puppies, but that’s quite unnatural for adult dogs, especially those who don’t live with other dogs.
So you shouldn’t be surprised when you thrust your adult dog into an environment like a dog park and they react with aggression and avoidance. It’s rather unfair to expect your adult dog to place “play nice” with other dogs at the instant.
That’s why it is important to teach your dog to take the form of a calm and polite behavior in public. You need to take them on structured walks daily and use the different cues to help them behave nicely around other dogs.
Another option is to enroll your dog in agility or obedience class. Or you can take your dog to a highly organized doggy daycare, maybe twice per week. You can also arrange carefully supervised play dates with your friend’s dog.
Your dog can learn to play nicely with other dogs at the park, but you don’t have to rush the process. Your pup may not become perfect on the first day, but with time, it will learn how to put up with other dog’s behavior and obey your commands. However, if you find it hard to solve the problem yourself, you can consult a professional dog trainer.