Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
A. There are many reasons why some dogs will upset your pooch while others won’t. Your dog’s reaction could be the result of past experiences or a reaction to the other dog’s behavior — or it could be
triggered by cues you are sending. It’s important to identify the possible causes of this behavior in order to better understand why your dog is acting the way she is.
size of the other dog may be a trigger for your pup. Most dogs are more likely to be intimidated by a larger dog than by a smaller one, and the reaction may become more pronounced as the size of the dog increases. The opposite can be true as well, though: A dog who has little experience with small dogs, or who has had a negative encounter with one in the past, may react with fear or aggression to a dog half her size.
Certain physical characteristics may contribute to your dog’s unfriendliness as well. Flat-nosed dogs, like the
Boston Terrier, and dogs with docked tails, like the
Doberman Pinscher, are less able to use body language to communicate with other canines because of their shortened snout and tail. Dogs with naturally higher tail carriage, such as
Huskies, may also be misunderstood by other canines because holding the tail high can be seen as a sign of aggression.
If your dog has any of these types of features, be aware that other dogs may react strongly to her simply because of her body composition. Alternatively, your dog may be more reactive to these types of canines because they are difficult to read and may inadvertently communicate a threat.
Prior experiences with dogs of different breeds, sizes, colors or facial features can also make a difference in your dog’s response to another canine. If a dog has been attacked or bullied in the past, she may perceive canines who look or move like that dog as a potential threat and may act fearful or aggressive when she meets them.
A lack of experience can also contribute to your dog’s behavior. A dog who has not been exposed to a variety of play styles as a puppy may become nervous when another
dog displays unfamiliar — and therefore intimidating — behavior. For instance, a
Border Collie’s natural play behavior is distinctly different from that of a
Pit Bull: The
Border Collie is more likely to herd in play, while the
Pit Bull may use more body slams and paw taps. This unfamiliar play may make your dog nervous and crabby.
The other dog’s behavior may influence your dog as well. A dog who is pulling on leash toward your canine may frighten her, even if he is just trying to say hello — a dog who is straining forward can look unfriendly and aggressive. If the other dog holds his tail up in an erect, stiff wag, this
tail carriage may be perceived by your dog as a sign of aggression and is likely to cause a negative reaction. Direct eye contact can also be intimidating; a dog who stares at your dog as he approaches may elicit a stronger response from your dog than a canine who frequently glances away.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
An Indiana shelter with a soft spot for
seniors is making life better for a Golden
Retriever with terminal cancer.
From bringing in your puppy or kitten to
telling your friends about him or her, there
are plenty of ways to make a…
Minimize the risk of a bad trick-or-treat
interaction by brushing up on your dog’s
manners before October 31.
Dr. Jenna Ashton shares how to
determine your pet's water intake and tips
for encouraging him to drink more.
The Schapendoes (aka Dutch Sheepdog)
is known for his incredible jumping skills
and cheerful personality.
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.