Monday, April 1, 2013

Do Dogs Need Canine Friends?

By Lisa Mason

There are a lot of different opinions about whether a dog needs to have other dogs around them to have a happy life. Some will say that their tiny little dog hasn’t seen another dog since it left its mother. Other pet owners will clutch their small dog protectively when a larger dog approaches. They worry that the small dog will get hurt rough housing around with the bigger canines.

All the while that we humans are holding our small dogs in our arms to keep them out of harm’s way, typically the dog is struggling to get free to go play with the other dog. We keep our dogs indoors and away from other dogs because we fear that another dog may have fleas or some other disease that will infect our dogs. We in fact baby and protect our dogs to the point of making them social outcasts.

Dogs are Members of a Pack

Dogs are social animals.  Let’s not forget that they are descendants of wolves who ran in packs. Let’s not forget that our dog’s ancestors lived in the wild and were quite capable of taking care of themselves. We have domesticated dogs so much over the years that they are now totally dependent on humans for their every need. Dogs used to run in the wild, in packs. The pack leader, or head canine, kept the pack under control and taught the smaller pups how to interact within the pack’s circle.

Today, we have become the pack leader and our dogs look to us for their food, water and everyday needs. Every dog seems to need a human attached to it, or society labels it a stray and it is generally picked up by animal control. Dogs are dependent on humans and we decide if we will allow the dog to socialize with its own kind.

Again, dogs are social animals. They enjoy interacting with people, other dogs and yes, even other species, such as cats and farm animals. But just as we humans relate better to another human, so will a dog relate better to another dog. A dog can form a fast friendship with another dog, or he can take an instant dislike to another dog just like we do with the people we meet.

Let’s look at it this way: what if you spent 24 hours a day in the house with your dog, day in and day out without ever seeing another human. Even though you love your dog and enjoy spending time with him, you would soon be stir crazy. You would be longing for human interaction. You would look out the window and drool when another human walks by, just like your dog does when he sees another dog.

This is not to say that one should open the door and let their dog run wild with other dogs. However, we should remember that dogs need to be around their canine companions just as we need other humans. Dogs learn from each other, dogs play in the same way and dogs form strong friendship bonds with other dogs. Allowing your dog the freedom to choose some canine friends is just good pet parenting.

Top photo by Eddie Van 3000
Bottom photo by Michelle Tribe

Read more articles by Lisa Mason


  1. I can tell that our Finn is just so much happier with Charley now as a little brother. I can see she loves the friendship!

  2. Mom always says she knows we are all a happy pack because we have our canine packmates as well as our humans.

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

  3. Really liked this article even though my Max is an "only" dog he goes most nights with me to my sister's or daughters where he has his pup buddys and also to the Bark Park sometimes but he does love to hang with his buddies!


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