You need to know that not all dogs like to play with other dogs. Some dogs prefer humans, some dogs prefer cats and the preferences could go on and on. With dog parks, dog cafe’s, dog play groups, dog pool parties, dog hiking clubs it has been ingrained in us that dogs are social animals but I’m here to tell you that dogs are just like us. Some of us love hanging out with a large group of friends while others of us prefer to be in solitude. Not all dogs like to play with other dogs, and not all dogs are pack animals. As a dog owner get to know your dog and their preferences. You are not doing your dog an injustice by not taking them to the dog park, if your dog is happier exploring the neighborhood on walks with just you, listen to your dog.
For those dogs that love to play and play and play with other dogs here are some things to keep in mind:
Dogs do not play silently. They are noisy and sometimes it can sound like they are fighting. Familiarize yourself with dog to dog play by watching dogs play at a local dog park. If both dogs are actively participating and no one is getting hurt then this is just dogs being dogs.
Dogs will hump each other occasionally and this can mean many things. It does not just mean that one dog is trying to dominate or mate with the other dog.
Dogs pin each other on the ground while playing and bite at necks. As long as both dogs are being pinned at one time or another they are generally fine. However, if one dog is always on the bottom it is time to break it up. Generally, the dog on the bottom is being bullied and not having a good time.
Dogs chase each other. Some dogs like to chase and others like to be chased. Watch body language if your dogs body is moving fluently and the mouth is open this generally means they are happy. If the dog being chased has a stiff body, tail between the legs then move in quickly this dog is being bullied and needs to be removed from the situation.
If you are interested in learning more about dog body language I do offer sessions at dog parks for owners and their dogs where I break down the behaviors of your dog and other people’s dog so you too can speak dog. Also, check out Nicole Wilde’s Dissecting the Dynamics of Dog-Dog Play for an in depth look at dog play and communication.