When it comes to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier you may hear mixed stories about how they get along with other dogs. Some may claim their history as fighting dogs make them incapable of being around other dogs. Others claim Staffies are fun, gentle, and loving friends to dogs. So what is the answer?
Do Staffies get along with other dogs? As a general rule a well socialized Staffy can get along great with other dogs. Proper socialization from an early age will result in a friendly, well balanced dog. Staffies are however not one to back down from a challenge, supervision of all interactions is a must.
I have been a Staffy owner for 11 years now. One of my first priorities as a responsible owner was to ensure my Staffy was well socialized. My goal was to raise a friendly, well balanced dog that would be an ambassador for the breed, and eliminate any stereotypes people may hold.
In the early days of owning my Staffy we worked daily on her socialization skills. To this day we continue to socialize her. In the entire 11 years of owning my Staffy, not once have we had an issue with her initiating any fights, or displaying aggression towards other dogs. She gets along with other dogs extraordinarily well.
To achieve this I used a few simple techniques that we practiced consistently for the first few years of my Staffy’s life. In this article I will cover the ways you can socialize your Staffy to have a happy, well balanced and reliable dog that gets along with others.
Why Does My Staffy Not Like Other Dogs?
There are a variety of reasons why your Staffy may not like other dogs. Some of the common causes of aggression towards other dogs stems from fear, possessiveness, frustration, dominance and illness. Determining the root cause of your Staffy’s behavior will help you better address the problem.
A Staffy that is fearful will often display signs of aggression or a general dislike of other dogs. The feeling of danger, or inability to escape will cause a reaction from a fearful dog. Early socialization can help prevent this type of fear from developing, but further training may be necessary.
Some dogs can become very possessive of things like food, toys, prized objects and even people. Staffies are well known for their love of family, but this can manifest into aggressive behaviors towards other dogs.
Lack of exercise and mental stimulation can be one of the main causes of frustration in a Staffy. They are highly energetic and intelligent dogs that need daily physical and mental exercise. When these needs are not met frustration can develop and be directed towards other things or dogs.
Displays of dominance and challenging body language is another reason a Staffy may not like other dogs. Communication between dogs may appear subtle to us, but it can be loud and clear towards each other.
Dogs that display dominant posturing and behavior can become aggressive when other dogs are not submissive, or elicit an aggressive response from the dog they are communicating dominance towards.
Things like high tails, stiff legs, and obsessively focused staring are all communicating dominance and challenging behavior. Staffies can display this behavior just like any other dog. Where this can be a large issue is when other dogs challenge your Staffy.
Generally a Staffy is fairly happy-go-lucky and friendly towards other dogs. When challenged however, the tenacity of the Staffy can come out, and they are unlikely to back down from dominant behavior from another dog.
Illness Or Injury
Illness can be another cause of a Staffy not getting along with other dogs. When a Staffy is sick, injured or generally ill they want other dogs to stay away. Consult with your vet if your Staffy’s behavior has suddenly changed and they are displaying unwanted behaviors towards other dogs they usually would get along with.
How Do You Socialize A Staffy?
The key to socializing a Staffy is to start early, be consistent, reward good behavior, and understand your dog’s cues. Socialization is one of the cornerstones to having a well balanced, reliable, and low maintenance dog for years to come.
The most crucial time for socialization with your Staffy are the early weeks and months of their life. Typically most responsible breeders won’t send a puppy to a new home until they are 8-10 weeks old. This is when socialization can and should begin with you and your Staffy.
Things like dog parks and pet stores should be avoided until your puppy is fully vaccinated, but this shouldn’t stop your Staffy from meeting new friends. Arrange meetings with your puppy and other dogs you know are fully vaccinated.
Bring your puppy out to meet new people, kids, and explore new sights, sounds, and smells. You may think “what does this have to do with my Staffy being good with other dogs?”. Everything! Building your Staffy’s confidence and reducing the possibility of developing fears will help when it comes to meeting other dogs.
Building a solid foundation early to develop your Staffy’s self confidence, exposure to new things, and comfort level in exploring the world. This early start will help tremendously down the road for getting along with other dogs, and behavior in general.
Go Slow, Reward Big
Challenging your Staffy to explore the world, meet new people, dogs, and environments is important. There is however a degree of self determination that must happen with your Staffy. Allow them to explore, discover, and meet the world in their own time. Never force interactions. This can create fear and have the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve.
Always reward your Staffy for positive interactions. Anytime your Staffy greets another dog nicely, says hello to a stranger politely and enthusiastically, or steps out of their comfort zone to explore a little further, reward them! Big rewards, lots of positive reinforcement. Let you Staffy know you are proud of them.
Visit Pet Friendly Places
One of my favorite ways to socialize my Staffy was to visit pet friendly places. Pet stores, farmers markets, certain retail chains. Basically anywhere my Staffy was allowed to be and interact with people and other dogs, I was there.
These settings were ideal for me. They allowed for lots of positive interactions without the chaos of the dog park. Teaching my Staffy to move along in crowds of people, meet strangers, and greet other dogs on leash was crucial in her socialization skills.
Find the local spots that allow your Staffy and visit them often.
I much prefer setting up playdates with other dogs than visiting the dog parks. Many people think that dogs parks are the best and only way to socialize your Staffy, but personally I find there are much better options.
Dog parks can be dirty, chaotic, over stimulating, and potentially dangerous. Not every dog owner in the park is responsible and capable of managing their dog. It only takes a moment for a chaotic situation to arise in these settings.
That is why setting up playdates at private parks, or quiet off leash areas has always been my ideal setup for dog play and interactions. Arranging with friends and neighbors a time to get your dogs together for some well supervised play and socialization is fun and great exercise for your Staffy.
Go To Puppy Classes
Puppy classes are another highly recommended way to socialize your Staffy. In a properly conducted puppy class your Staffy will be able to interact with other puppies in a controlled environment with a professional. A good trainer can provide on the spot tips and tricks to help better manage wanted and unwanted behaviors.
A good puppy class will also teach your Staffy to focus on you amongst the many distractions of a room full of young, high energy dogs. This ability to learn from you, as well as the dogs around, is important in a young puppy’s development and training.
Read Your Dog’s Cues
Understanding your Staffy’s body language is something that you will learn over time, but is important to always be aware of. When you Staffy has had enough, is looking to leave a situation, is over excited for a situation, it is your job to manage these cues.
As I learned my Staffy’s cues and body language I was better able to avoid situations that made her uncomfortable. I was also able to understand when she was too hyped up to be politely meeting other people or dogs, and would need to redirect her attention and avoid a poor interaction.
Payin close attention to your Staffy’s cues can avoide 99% of bad social encounters. By understanding them you can avoid potentially traumatizing events that could lead to bad behaviors developing. Such as fear or dominance with other dogs.
Exercise Your Staffy Often
In my years as a professional dog walker I could almost always tell when a dog fight was about to break out at the park. Many people have to leave their dogs alone during the day to head to work, and then head straight to the dog park afterwards for some exercise.
This may seem like a reasonable thing for some, and it works just fine for many, but this is not something I recommend. A dog with pent up energy from the entire day that is let loose in a dog park can be a recipe for disaster. Other dogs may react to the over excited behavior. Play may escalate beyond rough housing. And poor manners and behaviors can quickly develop.
Exercise your Staffy first before any big social events take place. Good brisk walks, a game of fetch in the yard, some mentally stimulating activity like flirt poles are all good options to use over the immediate burst of craziness at the park.
A well exercised Staffy will be far less likely to develop frustration, boredom, and tendency to get into trouble with other dogs. I know with my Staffy when we went out on walks, meeting other dogs was far more relaxed and enjoyable. As a result she has never developed bad behaviors towards other dogs.
The Staffy is a sweet, loving, friendly and gentle companion that can be best friends with most any well balanced dog. With early socialization and consistent reinforcement of good behaviors, Staffies can get along with dogs just fine.
I cannot stress enough how important socialization is for Staffies. Though I love the breed with all my heart, I know the challenges that come along with them as a whole. They are brave, clever, and tenacious dogs with a high energy level. Managing these traits is crucial to getting along with other dogs.
As I have mentioned, a well balanced Staffy is never looking for troubles from other dogs. They will rarely back down from a challenge however. Along with proper socialization it is your responsibility to understand your Staffy’s cues. Avoid placing them in situations where trouble can arise.
When managed correctly, socialized early, and rewarded enthusiastically your Staffy can be an ambassador for the breed, much like my Staffy. Follow the tips in the article and you too can have a Staffy that gets along great with other dogs.
PIBBLES & BITS TOP PICKS
King Komb DeShedding Tool – One of the best dog brushes on the market. I use the King Komb each and every week with my Pibbles. Easy to use and even easier to clean.
Wahl Dry Skin Oatmeal Shampoo – Smells great, cleans great, and best of all keeps my dog’s skin and coat looking and feeling amazing. Wahl Dry Skin Oatmeal Shampoo keeps my Pibbles skin moisturized like no other.
Earth Rated Dog Wipes – Dog wipes are an essential to keep on hand, and nothing beats Earth Rated. Hypoallergenic, biodegradable, and durable. I keep these dog wipes in the house and the car for everyday use.
Kong Extreme – Kongs are one of my most used tools to give my dogs some mental stimulation and something tough to chew. Kong Extremes are as tough as they come and will give your Pibble the entertainment they crave.
Outward Hound Food Puzzle – Outward Hound food puzzles are the best in the industry. Available from beginner to advanced. These are an excellent way to challenge and mentally stimulate your dog.
BeneBone Dog Chew – The toughest dog chew around. My dogs absolutely love the bacon flavor and peanut butter flavor BeneBone. These will keep your toughest chewers busy for weeks, if not months and years.
BarkBox Super Chewer – Variety is the spice of life, and BarkBox Super Chewer is the perfect way to keep your dog engaged. New treats, toys, and chews each and every month that your super chewer will love.
iCrate Dog Crate – The iCrate is my absolute top recommendation for dog crates. I use this for both my dogs and love the sturdy, easy to store, and versatile adjustable panel. You need the iCrate in your life.
HiKiss Long Training Lead – Recall training and puppy training outdoors requires a long training lead. My favorite to use is the HiKiss long training lead. Available in a range of lengths to suit your long lead training needs.