Every dog owner has said or heard that phrase at least once in his life. But what’s behind this unusual question?
EXAGGERATED PREJUDICE OR REAL PROBLEM?
No one would ever dream of denying that there is a higher probability of two males or two females fighting, but generalizing can lead us to have a dog that is madly afraid of its same-sex peers, and manifests it with aggression.
Each dog is a unique being with its own personality and ideas. The experiences he has had in the course of his life make him the dog we know. A correct puppy socialisation, with a variety of human beings different in size, skin color, clothing and sex, will result in a dog that is balanced with the human race.
But what if we do not allow him to meet or simply smell other dogs just because they are two males or two females? We will send our dog a wrong message that will only increase his resentment towards his fellow dogs.
Let’s take an example to understand better: in a park you meet two rather young dogs, 7-8 months each. The owners at a distance see each other and start the following dialogue:
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“Female! But it’s very good… play with everyone!
“No, then no! Mine’s a girl too! Better not…”
After this conversation the two will go their separate ways, but to do so they will have to move away, perhaps putting the leash on and speeding up the pace. The message that the two dogs will have received is that their human is tense and day after day they will begin to perceive the other dogs involved in these sketches as potential dangers (so: bark, growl, I get nervous).
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CHARACTER COUNTS THE MOST
The message we would like to get across is that it is much more important to know your dog and know how he will behave in certain situations. Don’t be prejudiced. But who decided that two boys and two girls can’t play together?
We do not deny that two males, not castrated, with a good character and an education that leaves something to be desired, will try to bully each other.
Nor do we deny that two females in the same conditions as before will try to bully each other (and when the females quarrel you have to be careful: a quarrel in a park between two males is very often “ritualized”, i.e. a lot of noise for nothing, toothless teeth and ferocious growling. If two females fight, they can hurt each other a lot).
Nevertheless, nobody should say “my dog is dominant with other dogs” because it is a sentence that makes no sense. Dominance exists, but only between dogs belonging to the same family group, not strangers. A dog that “challenges” or wants to subject another dog to the park is not dominant, but is rude and has no manners with others.
WE EDUCATE OUR DOGS FROM AN EARLY AGE TO RESPECT OTHERS AND TO LIVE PEACEFULLY TOGETHER
It would be more appropriate to think this sentence backwards: let’s avoid making our dog believe that everyone else is a danger. The dog is a peaceful animal, who hates contrast and would do anything to avoid it. It is we humans who all too often put certain ideas unwittingly into our dogs’ heads.
Whether they are male or female, what matters most is that they are polite. A polite dog is a happy dog.