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July 28, 2014

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. “You hear that, Eko? You’re stuck with me!” “Oh yeah, well you’re stuck with ME!” Thankfully, Eko and
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!

Comments for How Do Dogs Make Friends?

  1. Victoria says:

    Muffin won’t be friends with any puppies – small dogs are fine but puppies are not – i have no idea why but she doesn’t like puppies and Rigs well he doesn’t like to be friends with any dog that might be higher up a notch on the alpha dog chain -so we don’t really foster dogs anymore since poor Rigs get picked on too much

  2. fredrieka says:

    wow penny is getting big fast, she is almost the size of EKO

  3. Wow a polar bear AND a Weimaraner! Was it a girl? If please ask for the phone number. I like the most dogs, even after the bad experience I had some weeks ago. Except some black dogs… no idea why :o)

  4. I’m not quiet sure how dogs choose their friends, it seems completely random to me at times. But, I know with a little time and of course trial and error Penny will learn to read the signals of other dogs and learn who to play with and who not to.

  5. Great photos and the water cooler one cracked me up. Dakota is more “cat like” in that he doesn’t take to humans or other dogs immediately. Once he has been around them an d knows the 4-leggers and the 2-leggers, then he is fine!

  6. I wish we could figure out why they get along with some dogs and not with others. But hey, aren’t WE the same way? 🙂
    Meanwhile, my parents’ lab has no clue about body language as she was a stray and adopted at a year old. She has no ability to read other dogs’ body language and is always PLAY at full force and with lots of vocalizations. So they don’t take her to the dog park because it makes the situation unpredictable. Lucky for her, though, she has our two dogs to play with, when they are up for it (otherwise we just halt play with distraction).

  7. Marcela says:

    Amazing pics:-) Alex gets along with all dogs and more than dogs, she loves people. Bella, on the other hand, takes time to warm up to both people and dogs.

  8. Emmadog says:

    We all like dogs that are our size or smaller. We are scared of big dogs most of the time, except Bailie who is used to them, but she doesn’t play with them much.

  9. Elyse says:

    i love these pictures. Duncan isn’t supposed to socialize for another week or two until he gets one more shot.

    But Goliath loved any dog that was as big as he was — he wanted to be rough and tumble around with them. He had a lot of friends at the dog park we went to — rottweilers, malamutes, dobermans (is that a word?). He didn’t like little dogs particularly, but would play with one if there was nobody else available.

  10. Kyla says:

    Give me some green beans and I’m a friend for life.

  11. Misaki says:

    When I was younger I was exactly like Penny, but now i’m more like Eko. Think it’s definitely something that comes with age

  12. 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! 🙂

  13. awesome photos it’s so great you get them out and socialize as much as you do.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Dottie says:

    I Would hate to be the one in the way of one of Penny’s “Full Throttle” assaults. The other dogs seem not to mind; but Eko is ready and willing to retaliate at any given moment. Must be a blood bond, so to speak, especially if none is spilled from it. It’s still pure joy when those two get together. Lucky you, Will!
    Dottie and Tuffy-Cat

  17. This group has been tough. Mazie was really abused and I can’t be sure with her. She is OK with little dogs, does NOT like large dogs or ANY black dogs. She is not aggressive, just really on guard and not relaxed. Just fine if they are little. The Puffs, they are passive dogs and fall over if Jessie the 5lb poodle gets to bouncy near them so……pretty hopeless group here. Used to happy, well adjusted, confident Samoyeds from having Oskar and his brother Jester, then just Oskar, so this is really different.Tried puppy class with both the Puffs, it was disaster and they were miserable. I am resigned to have wall flowers I guess 🙂

  18. Royal Penny 🙂 why should the princess give LOL

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