Dog to Dog
Dogs are social and should have time with other dogs. Social play with other dogs improves welfare in different ways than dog-human interactions.
Group and pair housing are great ways to give dogs and puppies social interaction. Match healthy dogs by age, sex and size. Make sure that housing has enough space and resources to reduce conflict. Do your best to maintain groups of dogs who get along well.
A lack of social interactions can increase stress and undesirable behaviors. Socially-housed dogs are more active, bark less, and perform fewer harmful behaviors. They also offer more positive behaviors including play and sleep/relaxation.
Mismanaged social housing and group conflict can increase stress. Check socially-housed dogs regularly, and intervene as needed to maintain positive relationships.
Well-organized and monitored play sessions can also offer benefits. Social play:
- provides enrichment
- helps dogs develop and maintain motor and social skills
- improves welfare both immediately and in the longer term
Introduce puppies to friendly dogs during their sensitive period for socialization (3 to ~12-14 weeks of age). This helps prevent fearful and aggressive behaviors towards dogs later in life. Each dog will vary in how much social interaction they are comfortable with. Avoid forced or negative interactions.
Social behavior in puppies begins in week 3, when they begin to play with littermates. It continues through the socialization period until around 12 weeks. Puppies learn about social behavior by interacting with other puppies and their mother.
Lund, J.D. & Vestergaard, K.S.(1998). Development of social behavior in four litters of dogs (Canis familiaris). Acta vet scand., 39, 183-193.
Dog to Dog Library
Bare Bones – If you only have a few minutes for the basics
Kibble – If you want to take a deep dive into the science
Correlates of Pen Size and Housing Conditions on the Behaviour of Kennelled Dogs
Social Buffering of the Stress Response: Diversity, Mechanisms, and Functions
Domestic Dogs (Canis familiaris) Grieve Over the Loss of a Conspecifc
Why Do Dogs Play? Function and Welfare Implications of Play in the Domestic Dog
Additional Resources to Support Dogs in Other Environments
SHELTER & RESCUE
Dogs living in shelter or rescue kennels face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers, including those caring for dogs in home-based foster systems or rescue networks, are provided to support efforts to improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Dogs living in homes as family pets face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers, support the human-animal bond, keep pets in their homes, and improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Research & Teaching
Dogs living in research or teaching kennels face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers are provided to support efforts to improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Applications for Research & Teaching
Influence of Housing Conditions on Beagle Behaviour
Hetts, S., Clark, J.D., Calpin, J.P., Arnold, C.E., and Mateo, J.M. (1992). Influence of housing conditions on beagle behaviour.
Chronic Stress in Dogs Subjected to Social and Spatial Restriction. II. Hormonal and Immunological Responses
Two groups of beagles, accustomed to spacious group housing, were subjected to social and spatial restriction and studied for manifestations of chronic stress with a time interval of 7 weeks between the groups.
Applications for Pet Families
Does My Dog Love Other Dogs?
Chin, L. (2017). Does My Dog Love Other Dogs? Retrieved June 21, 2023, from https://www.dropbox.com/s/mkx0ub0l5dyr5xu/DoesMyDogLoveOtherDogs-LiliChin-revised.jpg?dl=0
Does Your Dog Need Canine Friends?
Moore, A. (2021). Does your dog need canine friends? Fear Free Happy Homes. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://www.fearfreehappyhomes.com/does-your-dog-need-canine-friends/
Factors Affecting Dog-Dog Interactions On Walks With Their Owners
Řezáč, P., Viziová, P., Dobešová, M., Havlíček, Z., and Pospíšilová, D. (2011). Factors affecting dog-dog interactions on walks with their owners. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 134, 170-176.
Be Dog Smart: Introducing Your Dog to Other Dogs
Pet Leadership Council. (2019) Introducing your dog to other dogs. American Pet Products Association. https://bedogsmart.org. Used with permission.
Applications for Shelter & Rescue
Effects of Group and Individual Housing on the Behavior of Kennelled Dogs in Animal Shelters
Mertens, P.A. and Unshelm, J. Effects of group and individual housing on the behavior of kennelled dogs in animal shelters. Environment Management Noise
Behavioural And Physiological Responses Of Shelter Dogs To Long-Term Confinement
Villa, P.D., Barnard, S., Di Fede, E., Podaliri, M., Candeloro, L., Di Nardo, A., Siracusa, C., and Serpell, J.A. (2013). Behavioural and physiological responses of shelter dogs to long-term confinement. Vet Ital., 49(2), 231-41.