If your dog has been avoiding other dogs, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about them.
So, why does my dog avoid other dogs? Possible reasons why your dog has been avoiding other dogs are that it had a bad experience with other dogs, injury, it is still a puppy or you might have inadvertently encouraged the behavior.
Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become easier to get your dog to stop doing it.
Why your dog avoids other dogs
Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make them more likely.
The cause could be that it finds the other dogs to be intimidating. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when the other dogs are bigger than your dog and it does not hide when they are smaller than it and friendly.
The cause could be that it has gotten an injury that has been causing it to feel vulnerable. This would be more likely if it started doing it suddenly and if it has been showing signs of having an injury such as limping. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
It could be the case that it is being submissive this would be more likely if it does things such as hide its tail, hide behind you or roll onto its back around other dogs.
The reason that it is being submissive could be that the other dogs are bigger than it, they are slightly aggressive or that other dogs mistreated it in the past.
This would be more likely to be the cause if it is still a puppy. If it is still a puppy, it is likely that it will become less afraid as it becomes older.
Encouraging the behavior
It could also be the case that you have encouraged it to behave that way by giving it things it wants when it does it. Instead of rewarding it try to redirect its focus before it has a chance to become apprehensive around other dogs and to reward it more when it is being well behaved.
The cause could be that another dog snapped at it causing it to be afraid of other dogs now. This would be more likely to be the reason if you saw another dog snap at it or if you adopted it from a shelter. In this case, it would help to try to avoid having it around potentially violent dogs.
If your dog is still a puppy, it could be the case that it has been avoiding other dogs due to still being young. As puppies, dogs will not be able to defend themselves very well, so the safest thing for them to do is to avoid potentially dangerous interactions.
Dogs will, naturally, explore their environment a lot as puppies and it is when they will learn a lot about the world. Not getting a lot of exposure to other dogs at a young age could be why your dog does not like other dogs. This is because it might not have learned what dogs it can trust so it sees them as a threat or it is unsure what to make of them.
In this case, desensitization training would likely work best which is discussed a few sections below.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out why your dog has been avoiding other dogs.
What else happened when your dog first started avoiding other dogs
If your dog did not always avoid other dogs, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started avoiding other dogs suddenly, it could be due to things such as an injury or another dog being aggressive towards it.
What is different when it does not avoid other dogs
If it does not always avoid other dogs, it would also help to consider what is different when it avoids other dogs. For example, if it only does it around big dogs, it could be the case that it finds them intimidating.
What to do about your dog avoiding other dogs
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop doing it.
Positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training is where you reinforce the behaviors that you want to see from your dog by rewarding it when it displays them.
To use positive reinforcement training to get it to avoid other dogs less, you would reward it after interactions where it was not afraid and it did not avoid them, reward it while it is near other dogs and it is not being afraid and stop rewarding it when it starts to become afraid or it starts avoiding them.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have been inadvertently encouraging the behavior by rewarding it. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it shows signs of not avoiding other dogs and to avoid rewarding it when it does avoid them but to avoid forcing it to be in situations that it does not want to be in.
If your dog has been being excessively afraid of other dogs, it would be an option to get help from a dog behaviorist in your area. By doing so, you should be able to see why your dog has been behaving that way and what you can do to get your dog to stop doing it.