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Social Dogs: Not All Dogs Are Social

a group photo of a bunch of dogs

Inner Circle: The Inner Circle comprises those constant, cherished relationships in both your life and your dog's life. These are the people who play a significant role in your daily routine, such as close friends, family members, or anyone who frequents your home with regularity. For your dog, these individuals become familiar, trusted companions. The Inner Circle brings a sense of safety and comfort to your dog, just as it does for you.

Imagine your dog's reaction when your dad comes to visit. Initially, your dog may react with excitement, barking to announce your dad's arrival. However, as soon as your dad is identified by your dog, the greeting transforms into pure joy and enthusiasm. It's as if your dog is saying, "Oh hey, it's you! I haven’t seen you in FOREVER!" Some dogs may have a smaller Inner Circle, feeling most comfortable only with the people they interact with on a daily basis. For these dogs to thrive, they require constant contact with their Inner Circle, and anyone outside this circle may be pushed into the Outer Circle.

Outer Circle: The Outer Circle represents those individuals whom your dog encounters but doesn't have an established relationship with. As mentioned earlier, just because your dog is social doesn't mean they're automatically social with everyone they meet. This circle includes people your dog sees in passing, such as strangers walking by on the street, the delivery person, staff at pet stores, or even the veterinary office.

For some dogs, the Outer Circle can be a challenge. Constantly accepting new people into their world can bring about stress and conflict. These dogs may have a lower threshold for stress and can become defensive more quickly. For instance, when your dad comes to visit, your dog's initial reaction might be to bark. Even after your dad has identified himself, your dog may still feel stressed and agitated in the presence of someone from the Outer Circle. These moments can be stressful for us as dog owners because our loved ones are part of our Inner Circle, but our dogs simply cannot accept them in the same way.

Understanding Your Dog's Responses: It's crucial to remember that there's no right or wrong answer here. Just like humans, each dog is unique, shaped by various factors such as breed, upbringing, environment, training, genetics, and even their developmental process in the womb. These are elements we cannot entirely control, despite our desire to do so.

While the Inner Circle is typically where dogs thrive, feeling secure and loved, the Outer Circle can present challenges. We can teach our dogs coping skills to change how they emotionally respond to the Outer Circle, but it's important to be realistic and recognize that some dogs may never equally accept both circles with unwavering enthusiasm. Every dog is an individual, and understanding and respecting their comfort zones is vital for a harmonious and happy life together.

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