How Dogs Learn From Other Dogs

For social creatures, it’s important for dogs to spend time with other dogs. But did you know that dogs learn from other dogs too...

Dogs often look to the other dogs in their lives as role models. If you have more than one dog in your life, you’ve probably seen that they act in similar ways after spending time together. This is because dogs usually model their behaviour on the behaviour they see in other dogs.

Dogs are hard-wired from a young age to want to be in groups. This means that young dogs are more likely to conquer their training goals when they’re in the company of well-trained, older dogs than if they were just following human instruction. This can make toilet training a lot easier too because the puppy will probably follow the adult in their routine and use the same locations the adult dog uses!

Researchers have found that dogs are able to use rapid mimicry with other dogs (basically they 'copy' another dogs expressions) in order to build up social bonds with their friends. Mimicry helps dogs set up playful interactions and see how other dogs respond. In fact, it’s been seen that the more mimicry a dog uses in social interactions, the longer those interactions last.

Dogs are socially savvy and when they befriend other dogs, not only are they more likely to mimic the behaviours of those dogs, but they also recognise those dogs as their friends rather than strangers and are noticeably more likely to engage with them - or even share their food with them!

All of this means that dogs are able to communicate with other dogs and pick up on their behaviours. If your dog spends time with other well-trained and well-behaved dogs, it is likely your dog will also display those behaviours. Similarly though, dogs are able to pick up on bad habits from other dogs! So even though it can be helpful to have your dog interacting with others so they can learn from them, make sure there’s always a human friend around making sure none of the learned behaviour will spoil your furry friend rotten!