How Do Dogs Make Friends?

As my siblings unfortunately learned when I was born, you can’t choose your family. The same is true for Eko and Penny – they’re stuck together.Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, dog beach, chicago, adventure, marking our territory

“You hear that, Eko? You’re stuck with me!”

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, dog beach, chicago, adventure, marking our territory

“Oh yeah, well you’re stuck with ME!”

Thankfully, Eko and Penny continue to bond very well as siblings. With her family life set, Penny now focuses her attention on making new friends. As a puppy, she is fairly indiscriminate about the particulars of dog friendship.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, dog beach, chicago, adventure, marking our territory

She’ll chat it up at the watercooler

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, dog beach, chicago, adventure, marking our territory

And bravely approach lost polar bear cubs

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, dog beach, chicago, adventure, marking our territory

At the beach, Penny plays with whatever dog happens to be closest at the moment

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, dog beach, chicago, adventure, marking our territory

 

And she always plays at full speed

Eko on the other hand is more selective when it comes to playmates. Somehow – and I have no idea how – he seems to know immediately whether he wants to romp with another dog or not. The same goes for most of the other adult dogs we meet at the park. It seems like some kind of speed-friend-dating thing that all dogs do.

Whatever the language, code or shorthand adult dogs know for selecting friends, it still eludes puppy Penny.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, dog beach, chicago, adventure, marking our territory

Ears back, tail tucked – this dog sent a strong message to Penny she did not want to play. Clearly Penny did not receive the transmission, so I moved her to a different part of the park to play

Like any pup, Penny has a lot to learn about the different signals other dogs send. I know it will come with time, but I’m still not sure what “it” is. Even when not making any overt signals, it seems adult dogs can still expertly read each other.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, dog beach, chicago, adventure, marking our territory

 

Friendship is a give and take. Penny’s nailed the “take” part but she still has some work to do in the “give” department

My plan is to keep a closer eye on Eko to see if there are any discernable patterns in who he likes to play with. I’ll also see if any pattern develops with Penny, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

What about your pup? Do they have a friend profile or certain types of dog (size, coat length, etc) who they prefer to play with? If you have any theories about how our pups choose theirs friends I would love to hear them!

35 thoughts on “How Do Dogs Make Friends?”

  1. Penny is so hilarious, zooming around like a loose cannon. Was Eko like that when he was little? Cupcake wants to take a sniff of a new dog and move on. She only really plays with her best friend, Lila who is 3 times her size.

  2. Daisy’s a lot like Penny – she’ll play with any pup or human she meets. Only once in a great while does she come across a dog she doesn’t care for – when we see her tail dip, we know to keep a tighter leash. It’s interesting, but we still can’t figure out what it is that turns her off about some dogs occasionally.

  3. I have nothing to offer – except gratitude at learning Siddy may become more discriminating as he matures. At present when we are at the dog park he is any ones – including other humans. He takes zero notice of me unless he loses sight of me and then he tends to panic. I am happy when some older dogs take him under their paws and endeavour to teach him a lesson or two ……. He generally races to me then! 🙂

    • That’s my favorite too! Our first day at the beach Penny would have gone home with anyone. She didn’t have a care in the world and wasted no effort discerning where I was…until she got tired and cold and began crying. She’s slowly getting the idea.

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