Peer Pressure

Black poodle Maisy and golden retriever Cali wait for a bagel shaped dog treat
Cali and Maisy share a doggy-bagel snack after playing outside.

One of the first things I learned in dog-training school was the ways that dogs synchronize with their humans. That’s why using an upbeat, energetic voice can get dogs amped up for a training class — and a low, calm voice can help them settle down.

But I’m increasingly finding examples of how dogs synchronize with their doggy friends as well. I first saw it with Maisy, Cali’s BFF, who clearly takes her cues from Cali when we’re on walks.

Maisy often gets very excited or anxious around unfamiliar dogs, and she used to get that way around unfamiliar people, too. But when we all went walking together, Maisy saw how much Cali loves meeting new people.

Instead of being nervous when a stranger approaches, Cali strains toward them, entire body wagging an eager hello. Cali has not figured out that not all humans want to pet the dog.

At first, Maisy would watch, uncertain and ready to bark, while Cali greeted people and made new friends. Cali convinced her to try it though, and Maisy has decided that saying hello and getting pats and compliments is fun. She’s not quite sure about other dogs yet, but then again, neither is Cali.

The next example of peer pressure and inter-dog dynamics came during playtime. When there are two dogs, they play together well; when there’s a third dog, two tend to gang up on one.

Unfortunately, Cali is often the gang-ee.

She and Koala often play well together, though sometimes Koala can be a little … pushy. Cali’s pretty confident about telling her to back off, and, if that doesn’t work, Cali literally takes her ball and goes home. Well to her little hideout in the back corner of her yard.

Maisy and Cali play very well together. They are BFFs.


When the three of them are together, Koala and Maisy become like the mean girls in middle school. They grab Cali’s tail and play tug. They each grab an ear. They behave like brats.

When all three are together, I have learned to organize separate play pairs. Cali and Koala each get a chance to play with Maisy — without each other. And Maisy goes home very tired and happy.


One thought on “Peer Pressure

  1. I do learn from your posts my dear niece, and I like your last two enough to ask a bit of advice. Several times now Ki-Ki from up the street, and Jaxson, have met as we went on walks, totally inadvertently. Jaxson strains at his leash and desperately wants to meet her. Or eat her I’m not sure which yet. (Kidding) I’m nervous because the first time they saw each other Jaxson got close enough to sniff her and then lunged at her throat. He didn’t hurt her but I got nervous and pulled him back, probably too quickly. Not enough to hurt him but enough to let him know I didn’t approve. He calmed down immediately and didn’t strain as much, but made whimpering sounds that brought similar whines of sadness from Ki-Ki’s human. “Awwww, he’s so cute!” She said. It happened again this morning when I took Jaxson to the mailbox and this mild and well mannered lady walked by. He didn’t strain, just whined as if to say “I just want to meet you.” I want to invite “Ki-Ki” from up the street to come have a play date with Jaxson but don’t want to incur any liability if he decides to get rough with her and draws blood. She’s a Pit mix and they’re both the same age by the way. What would you suggest?

    Love you!

    The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears. Minoass proverb



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