Why Does My Dog Hate One Dog?

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Is there a dog in your neighborhood that your dog doesn't like? Just as you don't like everyone you meet the same is true for our dogs. An indication that your dog might not like another dog includes, barking, snarling, lunging at them. Your dog may also try to create distance from the other dog by hiding behind you or trying to dart away. It can be embarrassing if your usually friendly dog starts to behave this way, but know that it's not unusual.

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Body language

Your dog might dislike a certain dog because they are doing something rude or threatening. Body language is a primary way that dogs communicate with one another, and the subtleties of canine body language often go unnoticed by people. Your dog may dislike a dog in the neighborhood because of body language cues that seem unfriendly to them. One big aspect of body language that people often overlook is eye contact or staring. Staring is rude behavior and can be interpreted as a threat by dogs. The longer a dog "hard stares" at another dog, the more likely it is that they are going to have a reaction like barking and lunging. Getting your dog's attention with your voice, treats or toys is a great way to break a staring match between dogs. Have your dog refocus on you, so that you can prevent your dog from having a reaction to a dog they don't like.

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Dog selective

As they age, most dogs become significantly less social and become less interested in greeting strange dogs. Your dog might be ambivalent or even sometimes friendly to many dogs but at the same time dislike a certain dog. This could be because your dog is dog tolerant or dog selective. Dogs that are selective aren't aggressive, but they generally don't want to meet or engage with other dogs while out on a walk in the neighborhood. Selective dogs may even dislike other dogs that have certain characteristics such as pricked ears or are of a certain size and age. Some dogs are also very tolerant of puppies, while others really dislike bouncy puppy energy.

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Don’t punish

If you have a dog who doesn't like other dogs (or just a particular dog in your neighborhood) ⁠— that's ok! Punishing negative behavior is confusing for your dog and can make the behavior you don't like worse. Barking, lunging, and growling are natural warning signs for dogs. If you punish these first warning signs early on, your dog will be more likely to go directly to biting in the future. Having a dog who isn't friendly or who has certain dogs they don't like can be embarrassing, but it's very natural. Use positive reinforcement training techniques to get your dog's attention, and help your dog to learn to trust that you will keep them at a safe distance from another dog so they don't react.

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Give space

Even if the other dog's owner insists that their dog is friendly and tries to encourage you to introduce your dog, trust your dog's judgment and don't force your dog to interact. Forcing an interaction is unlikely to help your dog to change their perspective, and it can also increase your dog's frustration and negative feelings. If you know that your dog doesn't like a certain dog, the best thing you can do while working through the issue is to create space between your dog and the dog that they dislike. A great way to do this is to shorten your leash to keep your dog close to you, cross the street, and pass by their yard, all while keeping their attention on you ⁠— by giving treats and praise.

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Try to be proactive and get your dog's attention when you see the dog your dog doesn't like, and to direct them away. Creating enough space to let your dog focus on you can help your dog not rehearse the behavior you don't like and by not putting your dog into a situation where they feel the need to bark, lunge, or react. Over time, the positive reinforcement approaches will allow your dog to slowly be able to stay focused on you while at a close distance from a dog they don't like. Through this positive training, your dog will make the association that the presence of the other dog means good things ⁠are coming — treats and toys.

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Getting support

Your dog doesn't need to be friends with every dog that you come across. Although there is a stereotype of dogs being highly social, this isn't the reality for many dogs. Your dog can also develop skills to cope with the sight and presence of a dog they don't like at a safe and appropriate distance through training. In fact, greeting or engaging with strange dogs isn't all that natural for most dogs, and isn't something that many dogs enjoy. If walks feel stressful, it can be helpful to find a positive reinforcement-focused dog trainer in your local area who can observe the situation. A trainer can help you and your dog gain new skills to make walking more fun for both of you.

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In summary

Just like some people are more social than others, the same is true with our dogs. It's not uncommon for a dog that is generally social to dislike other dogs. As dogs age, they tend to become less social or interested in interacting with strange dogs. If you notice your dog dislikes another dog, it's important to give them space apart and not force them to interact together. Use toys and treats to get your dog's attention to help them pass by the other dog on your walks.

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