Most puppies and young dogs love to meet new dogs and make new friends. There’s a reason that most dogs in day cares and at dog parks are adolescent dogs. They are more active, more outgoing (generally) and enjoy making new friends.
However, as dogs mature, they often have less interest in making new friends. Just as we humans often tend to become more “homebodies” as we age, so do many of our dogs. If your dog has reached maturity and does not seem to have as much fun at dog parks, day cares, or other places where they encounter new dogs, his interests might have changed.
Since Romeo was a puppy, we have had dogs board with us at home. He used to love new dogs coming and going, as he wanted to be friends with everyone and insisted they play with him until they were exhausted.
Now that Romeo is mature (OK, some days that’s questionable) he has less interest. Does he still want to check out the new dogs? Oh sure. Does he want to be everyone’s best friend and play with them until he can’t play any longer? No. With some dogs and on some days, he does want to play. Other times, he has no interest.
I had my doubts that day would ever come, but it turns out it has come much sooner than I ever expected. He no longer wants to be everyone’s new BFF, but he still loves the friends he already has. His best buddy in the whole world is a German Shepherd named August who lives nearby. We still have play dates, and they still pick up right where they left off even if they have not seen each other in a while.
I think it’s important for our dogs to have friends, just as it’s important for us to have friends. Sometimes these are another dog in the household. Sometimes they are not. These friendships might involve regular play dates, walks together or occasionally staying at the other’s house when one family is traveling. Just as we do different things with different friends, so might our dogs.
Who are your dog’s friends