All pups learn basic socialization (pack) skills when they're with their mother and the rest of her litter. But what happens after the pup leaves the litter? If there are no other dogs in the house, how will the pup learn how to interact with dogs?
We think it's important for Alvin to be with other dogs so we visit friends and family who have animals. On the July 4th weekend, he hung out with two groups of dogs. First, he played with Artie, a Wheaton Terrier and Lexie, a Carin Terrier. Artie's one of those laid back dogs who had no problem with Alvin's puppy playing. But Lexie is the lead dog so once she established who was boss, she tolerated Alvin. And she clearly outscored Alvin in the ball retrieval game. He just could not compete with her.
Next we picniced with friends who have three Westies and several cats. The leader of these Westies is a male, Scooter. He met Alvin at the front gate growling and did not stop until the ceremonial smelling of rear ends was complete. Even then he barely tolerated the pup. And the Prince decided he'd retaliate by barking at Scooter. Today we needed to supervise their interactions closely.
On the other hand, Alvin was able to play most of the day with the two Westie females Snowy and Zoey. He also met a cat for what must have been the first time. He growled at Oreo for quite a while, but nothing more.
What's interesting about these multi dog interactions is the clear dominance of one dog in a pack and the way the dominant dog interacts with a visitor (intruder). I guess that's what happens in a human group situation - a leader eventually emerges. Sometimes the human leaders are just as obvious as Lexie and Scooter!
I'm wondering if dog parks provide additional opportunity for positive socialization. Please comment if you believe there are any benefits to visiting dog parks.