June 7, 2022
Canine Companions: How To Tell If Your Dog Has A Best Friend
Though you may believe that you are your dog’s best friend, they may have canine best friends as well.
Like many mammals, dogs evolved as pack animals, most likely to increase their likelihood of survival. But along with that pack mentality, dogs also developed the ability to bond socially. That bonding led to the ability to work proficiently as a team while hunting and a sense of loyalty between members of the pack.
While most of that bonding has now passed to dog-owner relationships, your dog probably still bonds with other canines. You may notice your pet has preferred playmates, who they may be less aggressive towards or more tolerant of their presence. Several factors contribute to this preference, such as playstyle, energy level, and temperament.
Here are a few ways to figure out if your dog has a best friend.
They Focus On One Dog
When you take them to the park, daycare, or on playdates with other dogs, you notice they gravitate towards one or two specific dogs, possibly ignoring all other dogs present. If both dogs’ body language is positive and inviting, and they initiate play, you can be sure this is a healthy relationship, your pup most certainly has a best friend, especially true if it’s ALWAYS the same dog!
However, there are some things to look out for. Fixation on another dog could mean your pup feels threatened, aggressive, fearful, or considers the other dog a sexual candidate. Keep a close eye on your pup if they start obsessing over another dog.
The number one way to confirm that your dog is comfortable is by watching their body language. If your dog is having a positive experience, they will almost always maintain positive body language around another dog. Positive body language includes long and high, side-to-side tail wagging, play bowing, a loose opened mouth, a low, relaxed tail, or soft or squinted eyes.
It’s equally as important to watch for signs of negative body language, as it could mean your pup is having a bad experience or is just moments away from an altercation. Negative body language includes a raised tail with short movements, a wrinkled nose, a curled lip, stiff, forward-facing legs, or raised heckles. If your dog is exhibiting negative body language it’s best to remove them from the situation.
Dogs typically aren’t great at the whole sharing thing. Whether it’s resource guarding, territory guarding, or even toy-guarding, dogs tend to be very particular about their space, food, and even people. If your dog actively shares with another dog, you can be sure that the two pups are VERY fond of one another!
If you have other pets in the house besides your dog, the interactions between your four-legged family members can be a mixed bag. However, dogs CAN form friendships with other animals, such as cats and rabbits. Contrary to popular belief, there is no inherent animosity between species, and your domesticated animals will develop their perspectives based on experience. It’s important to introduce new pets slowly and make every interaction a positive experience. If your pets start spending more time around one another, and those experiences remain positive, you can be sure they’re building a life-long friendship!
Dogs are social animals but nature and having a best friend that your dog sees regularly can vastly improve their quality of life. It could contribute to less anxiety and increased comfort and security. It also means elevated levels of tail wags!
Don’t worry, your dog still loves you too, and not just because you’re a consistent supply of treats. Dog and human relationships are a beautifully complex web of love. Your dog not only sees you as a companion but as a protector, and the more time you spend around your dog, the stronger the bond becomes.