Tips On How To Get Your Dog To Play With Other Dogs

Oct 31, 2023 | Dog Behavior

Having a dog that gets along with other canines can be so rewarding. But some pups struggle with proper social skills. Don’t worry if your dog seems anxious, aggressive, or unsure around other dogs, don’t worry. With time and positive reinforcement, they can become a polite playmate. Discover why your furry friend may not be keen on socializing and how to introduce them to other dogs slowly. Learn how to encourage positive interactions and discourage rough play. Patience is key, but with these tips, your dog will be a social butterfly in no time!

Getting Your Dogs To Play With Other Dogs Key Takeaways

Orange Paw Bullet Point   Lack of attention from the owner can lead to aggressive behavior towards other dogs

Orange Paw Bullet Point   Past bad experiences can cause fearful behavior and discomfort around other dogs

Orange Paw Bullet Point   Gradually introduce your dog to other dogs in controlled environments

Orange Paw Bullet Point   Encourage positive interactions and reward your dog for good behavior during interactions

What Should Proper Dog Play Look Like?

Three dogs playing in a park

All Dogs Should Be Loose And Bouncy

When dogs are playing nice, you’ll see them with loose, floppy bodies and relaxed faces, making big exaggerated movements as they run around. They’ll fall down and roll over, exposing their bellies to show they trust their playmate. The pups will be completely vulnerable, but they’re comfortable and not worried at all. And the sounds they make are so dramatic! Loud, long growls and snarls while they play. High-pitched happy barks, too. All that enthusiasm and exaggeration shows the dogs are just having fun together. Their silly, relaxed faces and bodies, big movements, and loud baby talk – that’s how you know the pups are enjoying some good old playtime.


Dogs Will Reverse Roles

When dogs are playing nice, they’ll switch roles back and forth. One pup will be on the bottom while they wrestle, then they’ll flip, and the other doggo will take a turn on the bottom. Or maybe first, one dog is being chased, then they turn the tables and start chasing the other pup. Big dogs will also even things out when playing with little dogs. They’ll kinda shrink themselves down, making their body small and lowering the intensity of play. This helps them have more balanced playtime with a smaller playmate. The big doggos handicap themselves so the little pups can join in the fun too!


Proper Dog Play Includes Lots Of Pauses

When dogs play nice, they’ll take little breaks to keep things friendly. They might pause for just a second in the middle of wrestling or chasing each other. Sometimes, the breaks go by so fast that we humans miss ’em! Other times, the pups will take a longer timeout if play is getting too rowdy.

During these little pauses, you might see a dog throw some calming signals to say, “hey bud, I need a sec to chill!” This helps ’em reset when the play is getting too intense. Or it can be their way of telling the other dog, “yo you’re being a bit much right now. Lemme catch my breath!” The pauses and signals keep things polite and prevent the fun from escalating into a fight.


Dogs Will Play Bow And Make Other Play Moves

One thing you’ll see dogs do when playing is the play bow. This is when they stick their butt in the air and put their front elbows down, kinda like they’re bowing or doing a downward dog yoga pose. It’s their way of inviting another dog to play or checking in during play, like “We’re still just playing around, right?” The play bow gives both pups a little break to catch their breath and make sure they’re on the same page.

Another goofy body language you might see is hip bumps – when the dogs gently knock hips. And lots of sneezy, chuffing sounds as they play. All these behaviors are just different ways the dogs say, “This is all in good fun!” as they play together.


Dogs Will Show Proper Bite Inhibition

When dogs play, you’ll see them using their mouths a ton – but it’s cool as long as they have good bite inhibition. That’s when a dog knows to keep their mouth soft so they don’t hurt their buddy. Pups learn this from their littermates, parents, other dogs, and even people!

If a dog bites too hard during playtime, the other dog will be like, “Ouch, dude!” and stop playing. Things can turn into a fight if a dog doesn’t listen to that feedback. So it’s important we humans ensure our pups respect each other. As long as everyone has good bite inhibition, it’s fine for dogs to gnaw and mouth each other while they play – that’s just normal doggie behavior! But they gotta be gentle and listen to their playmate.

Two young Weimaraner and Pitbull dogs in play socializing and exercising biting inhibition

Reasons Why Your Dog May Not Like Playing With Other Dogs

Small sad puppy with big brown eyes all by himself

There are several reasons why your dog may not like playing with other dogs. One reason could be that your dog isn’t getting enough attention from you. If your dog feels neglected, they may display aggressive behavior towards other dogs as a way to get your attention. Another reason could be that your dog has had a bad experience in the past, leading to fearful behavior. Dogs with a fearful disposition may not feel comfortable engaging in appropriate play with other dogs. It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s body postures and their behavior during interactions with other dogs. If your dog growls or displays aggressive body language, it may be a sign that they aren’t comfortable with the situation. Understanding your dog’s personality and respecting their boundaries can help create a more positive and enjoyable experience for them when playing with other dogs.

Slowly Introduce Your Dog To Other Dogs

When introducing your dog to other dogs, gradually exposing them to new canine companions can help ease any anxieties they may have. One way to do this is by taking your dog to a dog park, where they can interact with other dogs in a controlled environment. Start by introducing your dog to well-behaved adult dogs with good social skills. Always supervise their interactions and step in if any negative behavior occurs. If you’re unsure about how to introduce your dog to other dogs properly, consider seeking the help of a professional dog trainer who can guide you through the process.

Dogs playing together in a dog park

Encourage Positive Interactions For Your Dog

Start by rewarding your dog with treats and praise whenever they engage in positive interactions with other dogs. This will help reinforce the behavior and encourage them to continue playing nicely with other dogs. When you want to get your dog to play with other dogs, training them to behave well around other dogs is essential. Start by introducing your dog to other dogs in a controlled environment, such as a dog park or a friend’s backyard. Observe their play behavior and make sure they’re playing nicely with the other dogs. If your dog shows any signs of aggression or discomfort, remove them from the situation and try again later. It’s also important to consider the age and energy levels of the dogs you’re introducing. Older dogs may not have the same playful energy as a puppy, so matching dogs with similar play styles is important.

Discourage Negative Interactions Through Rough Play With Other Dogs

To effectively discourage negative interactions, you should firmly and consistently correct your dog when they engage in rough play with other dogs. Rough play can escalate into dog fights, causing harm to both dogs involved. It’s important to create a controlled environment during playtime to prevent any aggressive behavior from your dog. Positive reinforcement is key in teaching your dog to exhibit calm behavior around other dogs. Incorporate obedience training into their daily routine, rewarding them for good behavior with treats and praise. When introducing your dog to a new dog, start with a play bow to indicate friendly intentions. If rough play begins, separate the dogs and redirect their attention to a different activity or room. Remember that socialization is a gradual process, so be patient and allow for a proper socialization period.

Use Time Outs To Teach Your Dog To Play Nicely With Others

If your dog frequently becomes overly excited or exhibits aggressive behavior during playtime, it’s important to use timeouts to teach them to play nicely with other dogs. Time outs can be a valuable tool in dog training, especially during the socialization period when dogs are learning how to interact with others. When visiting dog parks or engaging in dog play, teaching your dog to play nice and have positive social interactions is crucial. If your dog becomes reactive or displays inappropriate behavior, calmly remove them from the situation and place them in a designated time-out area. This allows them to calm down and learn that their behavior isn’t acceptable. Remember always to provide close supervision and reinforce positive play behaviors to help your dog become a well-adjusted and sociable companion.

Have Realistic Dog Play Expectations

You should understand that not all dogs will immediately want to play with each other, but it’s important to have realistic expectations for dog play. While it would be nice to see your dog instantly engaging with other dogs, it may not always happen that way. Dogs, just like humans, have their own personalities and preferences. Some dogs may be more reserved and prefer to observe from a distance, while others may be more outgoing and eager to play. It’s important to respect your dog’s individuality and not force them into situations they’re uncomfortable with. Dog play can take time and patience, so don’t be discouraged if your dog doesn’t immediately enjoy playing with other dogs. Allow them to build their confidence and social skills gradually; eventually, they may be more open to interacting with other dogs.

Two dogs playing on green grass outdoors with one dog laying upside down

Be Consistent With Dog Training

Keep reinforcing the training commands consistently to ensure that your dog understands and follows them during playtime with other dogs. Consistency is key when it comes to dog training. It’s a good idea to start by socializing your dog with friendly dogs in a controlled environment. Puppy classes or doggie daycares are great places to introduce your dog to new friends and learn good dog-to-dog interactions. When your dog is playing with other dogs, use the same commands you taught them during training. This will help reinforce their understanding and behavior. The best way to ensure that your dog plays well with others is to continue practicing and exposing them to different situations with friendly dogs. Consistent training will lead to good things and help your dog make new dog friends.

Find Professional Help To Train Your Puppy To Play Nice With Other Dogs

Have you considered seeking professional help to train your puppy to play nice with other dogs? It can be a great way to ensure that your puppy learns the necessary social skills during their critical socialization period. Professional trainers can provide guidance on how to introduce your puppy to new people and dogs in a safe and controlled manner. They can also teach you techniques for using baby gates or a tight leash to help your puppy interact with other dogs face-to-face. Border collies, in particular, can benefit from this type of training as they tend to have a strong herding instinct. Remember, it’s never too early to start training, and professional help can improve a good time. Don’t forget to provide your puppy with some time to relax and recharge.

Be Patient With Your Pup

When introducing your pup to other dogs, how can you be patient and create a positive environment for them to interact? It’s important to remember that not all dogs are naturally social or confident, especially when it comes to new experiences. Being patient and understanding can help your pup feel more at ease. Pay close attention to your pup’s body language and the signals they’re giving off. Canine body language is an excellent indicator of how comfortable your pup is feeling. Start with on-leash greetings to ensure safety and gradually introduce off-leash play in a controlled environment. It’s also important to understand the different types of play and what constitutes good socialization. If your pup seems scared or overwhelmed, take a step back and give them time to adjust. Remember, even young puppies need time and patience to learn and grow.

Getting Your Dogs To Play With Other Dogs Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Determine If My Dog Is Just Not Interested In Playing With Other Dogs?

Observe their body language and behavior if your dog seems disinterested in playing with other dogs. Look for signs of avoidance, fear, or aggression. Consulting with a professional trainer or behaviorist can help you determine the underlying cause and find appropriate solutions.


Are There Any Breeds Of Dogs That Are More Likely To Have Difficulty Playing With Other Dogs?

Some dog breeds may have difficulty playing with other dogs due to their temperament or past experiences. But, by following specific tips and techniques, you can still help your dog engage in social play with other dogs.


Can A Dog’s Previous Negative Experiences With Other Dogs Affect Their Willingness To Play With Them?

Yes, a dog’s past bad experiences with other dogs can impact their desire to play with them. It’s important to understand and address these experiences to help your dog feel more comfortable and open to socializing with other dogs.


Are There Any Specific Signs Or Behaviors That Indicate A Dog Is Having A Positive Interaction With Another Dog?

When your dog is having a positive interaction with another dog, there are some signs to look for. These include relaxed body language, playful behavior, and mutual engagement in the interaction.


Is It Possible For A Dog To Become Too Dependent On Playing With Other Dogs And Develop Behavioral Issues If They Are Unable To Do So?

Yes, it is possible for your dog to become too dependent on playing with other dogs. If they are unable to do so, they may develop behavioral issues due to their lack of social interaction.

The Tail End

It may take some time and effort to get your dog to play nicely with other dogs, but with patience and consistency, it’s possible. Slowly introducing your dog to other dogs, encouraging positive interactions, and discouraging rough play can help teach your dog to play nicely with others. If needed, seek professional help to train your puppy, and remember to have realistic expectations. With time and training, your dog can learn to enjoy playing with other dogs.

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