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.