Dog Tolerance

Dogs tolerance levels have a broad spectrum of acceptance of other dogs. Some Pit Bulls may have even less tolerance than other dog breeds due to their unique history. Educated Pit Bull parents are aware, understand, and accept their dogs’ tolerance level of other dogs. As well as manage their dogs appropriately.

dog tolerance level graphic

Tolerance

At one end of the spectrum, you have dogs that get along phenomenally well with other dogs. At the other end of this spectrum, you have dogs you must always separate from other dogs, who can’t get along with or be around dogs ever.

Most dogs fall somewhere in between. They may get along with some dogs, but not others, they are choosy about dogs they like, maybe only females, males, small dogs or big dogs. Or perhaps they only like the dogs from within their household.

All puppies are tolerant and friendly with other dogs. The behavior is typically referred to as “dog social,” meaning they genuinely enjoy the company of other dogs.

Maturity

Most dogs’ social skills will change as they reach maturity. This can be anywhere from 8 months to 3 years old. Some will become “dog tolerant”, meaning indifferent, or friendly. While other dogs become “dog selective”, they may like some dogs, but not others. Some become “dog aggressive”, not tolerating dogs at all. The last two categories are dogs that need close supervision and management.

Environment and Genetics

A dog’s tolerance level for other dogs depends on both environmental factors like amounts and type of training, handling, and socializing as well as their genetics. It’s important to understand that dog tolerance levels can change based on individual situations, like the dog is feeling stressed or ill. This is where knowing your dog’s body language can help you to react accordingly.

Body Language

A relaxed body, relaxed face, squinty eyes, smiley mouth, loosely wagging tail or wagging butt, and smooth movements. Be on the watch for stiffly-held bodies, whipping tails, a tail held vertically that is wagging forcefully over the dog’s back, hard stares with closed mouths, and high-pitched, aroused whining. Body language is more important than noise; some dogs can be totally silent. If your dog isn’t displaying relaxed body language, it’s best not to engage in dog-to-dog interactions. It takes only seconds for a tense situation to escalate to a confrontation.

Socializing

Socializing is extremely important during a puppy’s first year. Exposing a puppy or young dog to unfamiliar people, places, and things is critical in creating a canine good citizen. However, it may not be enough to prevent dog reactivity. It’s important to realize that dog-directed aggression is not a personality trait but a combination of genetics and environmental factors, like socialization, in response to a situation.

Increase Your Chances

You can increase your chances of having a dog-friendly, dog-tolerant adult dog by providing frequent socialization with friendly, well socialized, and well-behaved dogs. The number one reason besides genetics causing dog aggression is a dog being threatened or attacked by another dog.

This is why dog parks are such a bad idea. You must also be mindful of dog body language and protect your puppy, do not let them defend themselves; practicing a behavior creates a behavior. For socialization to be effective, it must be ongoing. You can’t just do it for a little while; you must continue to socialize with friendly dogs, and new dogs, as the young dog grows up. This is easily accomplished by participating in training classes or a local dog group.

Help for Dogs

There is help for dogs already displaying aggression. Committed owners can help their dog work through this. You can help your dog become more friendly or at least more tolerant of other dogs. Depending on the degree of aggression will depend on how you would work through it. We suggest you get a certified trainer or behaviorist involved to help you correctly; you do not want to make a mistake during this process.

Some dogs’ tolerance improves dramatically with behavior modification training, responsible handling, and/or slow, careful introductions to appropriate dogs. Dog-directed aggression has no correlation and is a completely separate behavior from human-directed aggression. Dog-reactive dogs can still be great pets for owners who are willing to manage their pet’s behavior for life. Leashes at all times, no dog parks, and careful management.

Break Sticks

A break stick is a solid wedge-shaped tool used to provide leverage to open the jaw of a determined dog. It’s a useful tool for “breaking” the bite and preventing injury to both dogs and humans who may be trying to break up the fight. They are a recommended tool for Pit Bull owners, rescue organizations, shelters, and dog trainers, as well as those with bully breeds who are in situations where unknown dogs interact. To be used only with dogs that bite and hold. Break sticks are not intended for use for dogs that bite, snap, release. You can read more about them here Pit Bull Hill