A friend messaged me the other day saying he noticed that one of his dogs seemed to have a preference for playing with little white fluffy dogs, both male and female, and he wondered if this was normal?
Dogs, like humans, have specific tastes and preferences. Much like you may prefer the company of specific “types” of people, ones that look a certain way, participate in certain activities or who share in the same beliefs as you have, dogs are drawn to characteristics in other dogs that are similar to their own. Sometimes this draw is a breed preference (ever notice how Labradors always seem to play together at the park?). Sometimes it’s a size or gender preference (my girls love intact males). But most often I find it’s a personality preference, where dogs who have a similar style of play or energy level, regardless of breed or size, are attracted to one another.
But is this normal? Absolutely. Up until about two years of age, these preferences are in the development stage and being learned through the various social circumstances the dog is provided with. By the time the dog is, on average, two years of age, they usually have quite a clear idea of who they like to play with (specific dogs), how they like to play (being chased vs. full contact wrestling vs. gentle mouth games, etc.), who they don’t want to spend time with and even where they like to hang out and what activities they enjoy doing while they are there. Often, we get confused by our dogs seemingly odd and changing behaviour as they get older when, really, they are just growing up.
So, what’s your dogs type? Next time you’re out together, pay attention to which dogs he seems to like – if any. See if you can identify what characteristics he is drawn to, or even repelled by. Is it the dogs energy level? The way the dog approaches or plays with him? Or maybe he prefers the dogs who ignore him completely?
Until next time, happy training.