Some dogs tend to be more open and friendly than others. Usually, when dogs react badly to other dogs it’s due to a perceived threat or from fear. There are a few things that could make your dog fearful of other dogs or perceive them as a threat. If you’ve ever had to ask yourself, “why does my dog hate other dogs?”, here are a few potential answers:
1. They Weren’t Socialized Properly
Because socialization early, often, and consistently throughout your dog’s life is essential to them being a well-balanced, confident dog, one of the most common reasons a dog doesn’t like other dogs is because they weren’t socialized properly. Poor socialization is also one of the most common causes of aggression in dogs.
Poorly socialized dogs tend to approach other dogs, other people, and new situations with fear and anxiety, which can quickly lead to aggression. This is particularly true if they are a breed that has protective instincts and can become territorial. This can result in behavior that makes it seem like your dog hates other dogs.
On the other hand, a well-socialized and well-trained dog approaches other dogs, other people, and new situations with a healthy sense of curiosity, confidence, and comfort. Even if they are a little nervous as they get used to things, they don’t tend to react aggressively. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to socialize a puppy and continue to socialize your dog throughout their life.
2. Your Dog is Protective and Has Become Territorial
Many dogs have a protective instinct. Some have a stronger protective instinct than others and may be more likely to become territorial. However, all dogs can become territorial if allowed to or if they have been trained into it.
This, often paired with poor or not enough socialization, can result in behavior that makes it seem like your dog hates other dogs. Likely, they’re viewing other dogs as a threat and are trying to protect you from them or are letting other dogs know that you are their territory.
Some of this behavior can be instinctual. However, it often goes back to a lack of socialization and the way the dog was trained. If you have adopted a dog and are unaware of their history, there could also be some past trauma that contributes to their negative behavior towards other dogs.
3. The Other Dogs Could Be Poorly Socialized or Trained
If your dog reacts to every other dog badly, then this probably isn’t the reason why your dog hates other dogs. But, if you notice that they tend to take a defensive or aggressive stance in response to body language or behavior from the other dog, it could be an issue with the other dog.
There are many types of dog body language to know. Learning some of the basics can help you understand what communication cues other dogs might be giving to make your dog react negatively. Even if your dog is well-socialized, they still have a limit and may not be comfortable with strange dogs running up with threatening body language or just ignoring your dog’s body language.
4. Your Dog May Just Prefer Quiet and Solitude
Just as humans like or don’t like some social situations, even as social animals, the same can be true for dogs. This could be particularly true if you are an introvert that doesn’t like loud or busy social situations.
It could still be a lack of socialization on your dog’s part, but they may also just prefer the quiet and solitude over dealing with other dogs. Still, even if they prefer alone time with you, they should not be aggressive with other dogs.
They may be aloof or act disinterested, but they shouldn’t display aggression unless other dogs are pushing them into it. If your dog is uninterested and other dogs ignore their warnings to back off, they may react aggressively, but they shouldn’t be aggressive without provocation.
5. They May Be Taking Cues From You
Dogs often take cues from their humans and react to their emotions as well. How do you feel or react when around other dogs? Are you calm, relaxed, and comfortable when meeting other dogs or when other dogs run up to you and your dog?
Or, do you tense up or get anxious? If you are giving off anxious cues when around other dogs, your dog could be picking up on that and reacting in ways that make it seem like they hate other dogs. Your anxious cues could make your dog anxious as well or could put them in protection mode.
6. They May Be Uncomfortable on a Leash
Think about when it seems like your dog hates other dogs. Does it always seem to happen when your dog is on a leash? If so, it may be time to check the fit of their collar or dog harness, the comfort with the leash, or you may just need some more leash training.
If your dog is still learning to walk with a leash or is uncomfortable or in pain while on a leash, they may react negatively to other dogs. For some dogs, simply being restrained while meeting other dogs puts them on edge and makes them feel anxious. This could mean there is some work to do with socialization, leash training, and more.
When a dog is reacting badly to another dog it is usually fear-based or they perceive the other dog as a threat. But, there are many things that can lead to those reactions. Understanding why your dog is doing something or behaving in some way can go a long way in figuring out what your next steps should be.
Hopefully, you never have to ask, “why does my dog hate other dogs?” But, if you do, you at least have some potential answers to help you figure out what to do next.