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Dogs Learn from Each Other

Dog fanciers are more than just “dog people.” We are breeders, handlers, groomers, mentors and so much more. Most of us are dog trainers, at least at some level, but the truth is our dogs teach each other plenty of things when given the opportunity.

Some people may ask, “Do dogs really learn from each other?” The answer is, “Absolutely yes!” They learn both good behavior and bad habits this way. They learn limitations by playing, and they learn how to stick up for themselves. They teach each other how to be kind and when to get tough. The list of behaviors they learn from each other includes the good, the bad and the downright hysterical.

Two Beagle puppies learn to play tug-o-war with each other at a young age.

From personal experience, I’ve noticed how my dogs teach each other more than just how to play together. I catch my Beagles creating all sorts of mischief when they’re together, and I’m talking about both young puppies and old dogs too.

We have a big back yard where our Beagles all get to be together, for the most part. They basically have all day to come up with fun activities to do together. Most the time when I peek outside to see what they are up to, they are just snoozing away the day. Other times, though, I’ll look outside and find a couple of them digging holes like they are on a mission or playing a game of “keep away” with each other. When they finally realize that I’m watching them, they look at me and pretend like nothing was happening.

Oh, and did I mention that when one Beagle barks the others like to bark back? They have way too much fun getting into “trouble” by teaching each other to do this together!

This naughty Beagle puppy is both a teacher and a student.

It’s understandable if our first reaction to discovering that our dogs are teaching each other bad habits is to fly off the handle. But before we do, it’s important to understand that not all bad deeds need to be punished. Many times, our dogs don’t understand what they’ve done wrong and why they’re being scolded anyway. Plus, if a correction is made without a positive reinforcement, there’s a good chance that our very smart pups will simply continue their naughty behaviors, only now they’ll be sneaky about it and hide their mischief from us. It’s usually best to just let the dogs with good behavior teach this to the rest of the pack.

One thing is certain when it comes to helping our dogs become both teachers and students: consistency is the key. The best method for getting our dogs to behave the way we want them to is to be a good teacher ourselves. Most of the time I think you will find yourself giggling as you watch your dogs interact, just like I do with my silly Beagles.

Do you have a story about how your dogs learn things from each other? If so, please share it with a comment below.

Remember, no matter what they teach each other, Dogs Freakin’ Rule!

Written by

Kayla Bertagnolli is a 23-year-old from Ogden, UT, who's been involved in the dog show world her whole life. A former junior handler who learned about breeding Beagles from her mother Leah, she assisted several professional handlers and is currently working to become a Junior Showmanship judge. Kayla is passionate about photography and writes the twice-weekly blog, DFR. She plans to continue breeding and showing, and expects to stay involved in dogs "for life!"
  • Carol Bryant
    Carol Bryant April 17, 2013 at 7:15 AM

    Sooooo true, Kayla. Dogs do rock! I love how you said the dogs will play a certain way, see you and then turn away. They learn so much from us and from each other. Great blog post.

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