Dear Miss Behavior: My puppy loves other dogs; she just can’t wait to meet them. But she gets attacked whenever she goes up to them. She loves to play, but all the other dogs bully her and growl and even try to bite her. What can I do to make the other dogs like her?
I’m glad you’re getting her out and socializing her, but part of the socializing is learning how to greet other dogs appropriately. When Lilly runs up and jumps on the other dogs, she sees it as an invitation to play; the other dogs may see it as a rude puppy at best and a full on attack at worst.
If you watch two dogs meet, they don’t usually meet each other with full body contact, that’s only suitable on the football field. Most dogs politely sniff and circle each other. When you’re allowing Lilly to meet new dogs on leash, you should approach only with permission of the other dog owner. Allow the dogs to sniff for a few seconds as you walk in a circle and then move away from each other. You can approach again, if the other dog seems agreeable.
Once they’ve met, then you can allow them to play. If the older dog decides that Lilly is being rude, he might growl or snap at her. It’s his way of telling her to back off. She needs to learn to watch other dogs for body language to find out what’s the correct behavior.
You can help her learn by pulling her out of play situations when she becomes too rough. Give her a little bit of time to calm down and then let her play again. Once she learns to play properly, you’ll find that most dogs do play quite rough, but they have to get to know each other first.
Taking a Puppy Manners class with Lilly would be a great option. Not only would she learn some basic manners with humans, but she’d get the opportunity to play with other dogs in a controlled setting. Check out the Greater Lincoln Obedience Club‘s website for more information.
Thanks to this feature goes to Greater Lincoln Obedience Club, who ran the Miss Behavior Dog Advice Column in their newsletter. Appreciation also is extended to Marcy Graybill, a trainer at GLOC and the expert behind this column. She also hosts her own blog, Dog Log, where she talks about training adventures with her dogs.
If you have a question for Miss Behavior, please post in the comments below and we’ll feature it in a future column.