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So i’ve noticed my dog will happily play with another dog but usually only if they are the only two present. We can literally be at a picnic with her 4 favorite doggy playmates in the world and she will wait until ANY 3 of the 4 leave and then happily play with the one left (whoever it is).

It also works the other way too - she will be happily playing with her dog bud, then another one of her good dog buds arrives and she will instantly stop playing and come chill around by me.

I get that her preference is 1-on-1 play but like does anyone have any thoughts on why she wont play in front of others? Like why does it have to be private lol. She will do this around a small group of her favorite dogs that she knows well and enjoys playing with, it’s not just a case of “oh well a rando has entered the scene clearly i need to be more alert/cant let my guard down”

Any thoughts? I know it’s not a BAD thing, im just trying to understand the psychology behind it lol
 

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Cat-dog, GSD spayed female and Tornado-dog, JRT mix, neutered male
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She may feel that she will be gained up on when there are multiple dogs around. Just like with people, when there is a group together, some dogs (people) just feel overwhelmed or insecure or intimidated, etc.
 
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Dogs are like toddlers. Two might play very well. If there are three, one often gets left out or ganged up on.

I was reluctant to get a third dog for that reason. It has worked out very well, but we made sure they all had a meet-and-greet before pulling the trigger.
 

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I agree with the others. The play gets more chaotic and unpredictable with more than two puppies, and a sensitive dog can easily feel overwhelmed. It's wonderful that she chooses to remove herself and chill by you! That's a great way for an overwhelmed dog to cope - my oldest is very sensitive to chaotic dog-social settings, and he'll start snarking and trying to push the other dogs around to feel more in control, so he no longer does any dog-dog socialization outside of immediate family's and friends' dogs he knows well and feels most comfortable around. Definitely encourage her ability to know her limits and be able to calmly step out of the action to where she feels safe and in control!
 
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