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Do Dogs Learn From Other Dogs?
Short answer is YES…….. Dogs learn dog things off other dogs….. for examples of this we only have to watch puppies when they are raised from birth with an extended pack (this could be say, the mum, some older siblings, your old terrier, your parents kelpie dog staying with you for holidays) Magoo PupsHunting Skills – Digging in the dirt or scratching the bark of tree branches for insects, Chasing, Swimming, Tug of War and Fetching are all games to help build their skills to make them useful members on the hunt.
Social Skills – Play or Conflict teaches dogs how to compromise and soften their body thus become reliable to live within the group.
Clean Living – Adults clean puppies and then puppies clean each other, then start to learn to clean themselves. Puppies quickly learn to clean their feet and pull out burrs in their coats and between their toes. They also start to learn toilet training, initially the older dogs clean up after the pups and later the pups follow the older dogs outside away from the den to relieve themselves. 6 week old puppies will happily leave the sleeping and play area to go out side to a grassed area for toilet if given the opportunity.
Good Manners – These skills are even more than just the pack interaction, but become a general skill which is useful in many different areas. When the inexperienced dog encounters a new situation they take the lead from the experienced dog. One great example in our house is: the older dogs will tell the cat not to hurt the puppies, but then later when the pups are older, the experienced dog will block a puppy or dog who rushes in hard on the cat……
Future Trainability – When dogs have the chance to spend time and hang out with other dogs their learning ability increases, thus they become easier for us to train as we have the advantage of watching how these new dogs learn and we can adjust our training to suit.
Puppy Raising – It is important to remember that when Puppies are raised in pet shops, puppy mills, or locked away in some backyard breeding pens these pups don’t have the same chance to learn these life skills. It is not surprising that many dogs end up with behaviour issues later on in life when they go and live in homes where the humans might not know or understand how to guide their dogs into constructive learning.
When you consider that most dogs are destined for living in a family home it is commonsense then for puppies to be raised in a household where the humans can view and monitor the puppies constantly. Even if the humans are still learning how to raise a litter, these pups still have a better chance of developing the life skills that our society desires.
Although it would be ideal for pups to be raised in a group of dogs this might not always be practical due to the nature of our modern world. Instead we should still aim to give our family dog the opportunity to play and learn with other dogs.