Can dogs make friends with other dogs? Scientists are naturally sceptical, perhaps because your average dog owner tends to anthropomorphise (humanise) their dog companion. And when you do that, you imbue them with human characteristics. You come to the certain conclusion that dogs can make friends with other dogs. More than that. Dogs can make very close friends with other dogs. Soulmates. It looks like love to use a human term.
So, there are two sides to this discussion. You can go back to the way wolves behave in the wild; the ancestors of domestic dogs. There is real friendship between related wolves but when they are unrelated, they become associates, connected but not in a deep friendship. On this basis it is thought by some scientists that dogs can’t form true friendships with other unrelated dogs. They are more like work colleagues and associates without that vital spark of emotional connection.
However, I think that even the most sceptical scientist would now agree that dogs can make friends with other dogs. You have not got to go far to see an example. Just below is a video of two dogs reuniting after seven months apart. It took place on March 11, 2022 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The dogs are unrelated. The caption is “my dog reunites with my brother’s dog after seven months apart”.
The excitement is palpable and there is no doubt in my mind that these dogs are very close friends.
The Psychology Today website has an amazing story about dog friends. It’s the case of Mickey and Percy. Mickey was a Labrador Retriever and Percy a Chihuahua. They were close friends. They were playing on the front lawn and Percy, in his excitement, went on to the road and was hit by a car. His owner thought he was killed so they buried him in a sack in their backyard. Deep depression descended on the family.
Mickey refused to leave the grave. The owners left the back door open at night when they went to bed except for the screen door to allow them to hear Mickey if he decided he wanted to come into the house.
They were woken up by frantic wining and scuffling outside the house. They went to investigate. Mickey had dug up the sack containing Percy’s body. Mickey was agitated, licking and nuzzling Percy’s face. It was a desperate situation. His owner gently pulled Mickey away and then noticed that Percy twitched. There was a spasm of movement. Percy was alive and Mickey had saved his life. Dog friends? More than that.
Dr. Kim Rowley, DVM, an instructor at the Veterinary Technology Program that Rochester Community and Technical College in Rochester, Minnesota, USA was asked whether she thinks dogs develop dog-to-dog friendships. Her response was that although she had never conducted the search experience told her that dogs definitely have friends like we do.
Common sense dictates that dogs can have friends. Dogs make friends with their owners. They perceive owners as other dogs. Dogs make friends with cats and other animals. You can’t deny what you see. It’s obvious. Dogs have emotions. If an animal has emotions, they can create emotional connections with other animals.
I don’t need to go on, really. I think scientists have perhaps over-engineered their answer. Let’s take a commonsense view and interpret what we see in a straightforward way. If we do that, we come to the inevitable conclusion that dogs can make friends with other dogs just as humans can make friends with other humans.