In this video clip from Ireland AM, we discuss the importance of socialisation for puppies and for adult dogs. Watch the clip by clicking at the foot of this page.
Behaviourist, Suzi Walsh, from www.dogbehaviour.ie , joined us on set, giving great advice about the importance of early socialisation of puppies.
As a bit of fun, Joni the Chihuahua was wearing a wedding dress, while Sky the Staffie wore a tux. The dogs were happy in their outfits, but I’d like to stress that this was purely for entertainment. There are many stories of dogs being ultra-close friends with other dogs, but of course they can’t get married: dogs are unable to understand such concepts, and cannot make verbal commitments etc etc. Weddings for dogs are only about human entertainment, and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as the dogs are happy to be dressed up in this way.
Dogs need to have a social life
Dogs are pack animals who are not designed to be on their own; they need to spend social time as part of their daily lives. While some dogs do fine as singleton animals, with just close relationships with one or more humans, most dogs naturally enjoy a social life with other dogs. Dogs, like humans, have preferences, and some dogs get on well together, others don’t. It’s hard to predict.
Can dogs have best friends?
Dogs often have friends, and even best friends, just like humans. Just like humans enjoy the company of some people, and don’t like others so much, so it is with dogs. The technical term that’s used is “preferred associates”: if a dog is introduced to a group of other dogs, they will commonly be seen to be spending more time with particular individuals. There are complex reasons for this: some dogs have a preferred play style, and they enjoy playing with other dogs that play similarly. And there are many other reasons that are hard to explain: you could call it “chemistry”. Dogs with dog best friends tend to ignore other dogs and play more or spend more time in general with their dog best friend. They may be more willing to share their toys, bed, water bowl and general space. Sometimes they may be willing to share their favorite dog treats or dog food, but that is not always the case. Some dogs can have best friends, but can still be reluctant to share a highly valued resource such as their favorite dog toys, treat, bed or owner.
A dog’s best friend could even be a different species
Best friends do not always have to be other dogs: dogs can form close friendships with cats, people or even other species like guinea pigs or rabbits.
Is it better to have one dog, or more than one dog, in a home?
There are pros and cons to having one dog in a home, or more than one dog
- If you have a dog living on their own, they are more likely to be closely bonded to their human companions, and vice versa. However they still ideally need dog companionship: if a dog lives on its own, doggy day care can help to provide social needs, or perhaps friends in the park who they meet regularly .
- If you have more than one dog living in your home, they can form exceptionally close relationships with each other. It is true that dogs living in the same house sometimes don’t get on at all, and sometimes they might even fight. Occasionally, a dog may even need to be rehomed because the relationship is so bad. This is particularly common when pups from the same litter are kept, because they have a similar temperament, physical size etc, so there is no natural winner in confrontations.