Preston and his best friend Miss Bella

For us women, friendships play a key role in who we are. We share the good times, the bad times, and even just the random moments in our lives with our friends. That was one of the major reasons (at least for me) why I decided to join Sigma Kappa *cough* 16 years ago. Believe it or not, friendships play just as an important role for our canine companions.

This past year, there was an article in Modern Dog magazine called “Do Dogs Needs Canine Friends,” written by researchers Traci Cipponeri and Paul Verrell of Washington State University at Pullman who studied relationships among wolves. They found that, with the exception of individual wolves that were related to one another, their social interactions could be described as “uneasy alliances” among individuals with both shared and conflicting interests.

Despite wolves being distant relatives of canines, anyone who has had a dog knows that most dogs truly enjoy having interactions with other dogs, even if it is an occasional meeting during a walk. My dogs have dog friends that we make a point to set up play dates with or meet at a dog park or dog social. This allows them to get the much needed interaction and canine friendship. Here is Preston’s best friend Bella. They have known each other since they were pups and have a very tight bond.

There are many great places to take your dog so they can learn to socialize:

Dog parks.

For my non-pet owning sisters, a dog park is typically a fenced in area or park where dogs are allowed to run off leash and interact with other dogs. Typically, there are rules posted that outlines how old a dog has to be, if they are required to be spayed or neutered, how many dogs per person, if kids are allowed, etc. If you go to a dog park, one very important tip to know is that you MUST clean up after your dog. Not cleaning up is the quickest way to make enemies or even be asked not to return to the park.

Training classes.

In addition to having a structured environment for the dogs to interact, there is a qualified dog professional keeping a watchful eye. It is a great place to meet other like-minded pet people, and I have made several new friends through classes. I have also run into sisters from other Sigma Kappa chapters and even reconnected with a sister from my chapter who had just moved back into town.

Dog groups.

Westies take a train ride at a dog meetup

There are dog groups online, and there may be some local groups in your town. These are great for canine socialization. I am a member of a (think Facebook for dogs) online West Highland White Terrier community that has annual meet-up weekends. So far as part of this group, Preston and Elvis have gone to a waterfall, visited a winery, rode a train (think 30 little white dogs all in one compartment with their heads out the windows), toured Nashville in a stretch limo (the looks we got when dog after dog got out of the limo at each stop was priceless), and this year we will be in Cincinnati touring the sites.

So check online to see what opportunities may be in your backyard for your dog to make new friends. Please be aware though that just like humans, not all dogs like each other. Therefore, please don’t force your dog to interact with another dog just because you want them to. Meanwhile, you might be surprised how many more people you meet by socializing your canine as having them around always seems to start unexpected conversations. So, let your canine take the lead, and in no time your dogs will have canine friends (and you may make a few human friends in the process!)


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