When introducing your dog to potential playmates, it’s essential to read both parties’ body language closely. This observation allows you to assess their compatibility and prevent negative social behaviors from developing. Here’s a breakdown of two encounters of Ellen that can shed light on finding your dog a suitable playmate.

The Case of Giggle

Start from friendly sniffing.

Giggle greeted Eddie by sniffing each other when they met. Initially, they sniffed each other’s genital area before turning to rear. Many owners may find sniffing the genital area to be indecent or impolite behavior, but in fact, there is no fundamental difference between sniffing the genital area and sniffing the rear. Whether it is “polite” depends on the attitude of the one being sniffed, as well as the posture and duration of the sniffing. It can be seen from that when both sides are sniffing, their center of gravity is neutral, and their muscles are not tense, these body languages indicate acceptance, so sniffing the genital area in this case is a normal social behavior.

body language while ellen and giggle are sniffing each other

At this point, some owners may ask if some dogs might not like being sniffed but endure it without showing it? The answer is not likely. Dogs are not good at hiding their emotions. If they mind being sniffed, they may stare at the other dog, quickly turn to face them, tuck their hindquarters, or leave directly (they may also growl/snarl/attack).

Know the boundaries – “I will stop when you have no interests”.

After a brief sniff, Giggle showed a keen interest in Ellen and followed him for further interaction. As they were unfamiliar with each other, Ellen stopped and turned his head to observe Giggle’s intentions when he noticed Giggle following him.

giggle stopped when ellen turn his head

Giggle froze immediately after Ellen turned his head, indicating no further action. This body language of Giggle served to stabilize the situation, indicating to the other party that there was no intention of further action.

Giggle is a suitable playmate for most dogs.

After the observation, it can be determined that Giggle is a dog that is neither timid nor dominant, has some interest in other dogs, but knows the boundaries. Most dogs are suitable for making friends with this type of dog. They will try their best to attract the attention of dogs they are interested in, but for Ellen, Giggle didn’t quite hit the mark, so Ellen didn’t respond further to Giggle.

Encounter with Lucky

Run to the owner’s side when other dogs are aware of her.

Next is Lucky – a dog with a completely different social tendency from Giggle. When Ellen approached slowly to get to know her, even if Ellen pretended to sniff the ground when approaching (this social behavior of dogs indicates a gesture of non-confrontation and an attempt to initiate friendly interaction), Lucky first ran to the owner’s side as soon as she sensed Eddie’s presence.

Lucky’s body language shows uncertainty and slight discomfort.

At this point, Lucky’s head was neither high nor low, her ears were neutral, and her tail was straight, although this posture was not particularly tense. It can be seen from earlier that she walked back from a distance and leaned against the owner’s leg, indicating her uncertainty and slight discomfort with Ellen’s approach, so Ellen chose to retreat to maintain distance.

body language when ellen and giggle are sniffing each other

Only dared to approach and sniff when is faced with other dog’s back.

Also, it can be seen that Lucky only dared to approach and sniff when Ellen’s back was turned, and when she noticed that Ellen might be aware of her, she quickly left. At the same time, it can be observed that she was more interested in interacting with the owner, and when other dogs’ actions became more intense, she would run back to the owner’s side immediately.

lucky's sniffing while ellen's back is turned

Lucky is a suitable playmate for slow-to-warm-up and timid dogs.

Through the observation earlier, it can be judged that Lucky is a dog that is more cautious about contact with strange dogs. Compared to playing with dogs, she prefers to play with the owner. Slow-to-warm-up, timid dogs are more comfortable with such dogs. However, if our dog doesn’t understand boundaries very well, we need to intervene in time to avoid scaring other dogs or forcing them into a corner where he/she has to protect themselves.


In conclusion, finding a suitable playmate for your dog requires a keen understanding of canine social dynamics and individual preferences. Through careful observation of body language and interactions, as illustrated by the encounters with Giggle and Lucky, dog owners can assess compatibility and prevent negative behaviors. Whether your dog is outgoing like Giggle or more cautious like Lucky, knowing their tendencies helps in facilitating positive socialization experiences. By respecting boundaries and intervening when necessary, owners can ensure that their furry companions enjoy fulfilling and safe interactions with their playmates, ultimately contributing to their overall well-being and happiness.

Published On: May 23, 2024
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