Are Boston Terriers Good With Other Dogs?

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Boston Terriers, affectionately known as ‘American Gentlemen’, are loved for their tuxedo-like coats and fun loving temperament. They’re excellent family pets, showing both love and independence.

Perhaps surprisingly, Boston Terriers were originally bred to fight other dogs. So, if you’re considering adding a Boston to a multi-dog family, you might wonder, “Are Boston Terriers good with other dogs?”

The Boston Terrier, inherently sociable, is often an excellent companion for other dogs. Their friendliness, combined with proper socialization and positive reinforcement training, fosters harmonious relationships, although individual personality and experiences can sway their behavior.

Here is the list of topics I will cover today:

  1. Importance of Early Socialization
  2. How to Socialize Your Boston Terrier Puppy
  3. Importance of Positive Reinforcement
  4. Factors Influencing Friendliness with Other Dogs
  5. Dog Breeds Compatible with Boston Terriers
  6. Tips to Make Sure Your Boston Terrier is Friendly
Are Boston Terriers Good With Other Dogs?

Importance of Early Socialization

Socialization refers to the process of introducing your dog to its environment, which includes people, places, sounds and other animals. You can socialize your dog at any age, however, it should ideally be done at an early age when your dog is still in the puppyhood period and its brain is learning through experience and is most receptive to different stimuli and interactions. 

Early socialization at an age of 4 to 16 weeks is pivotal for the mental, behavioral and social development of your puppy. The gradual introduction of your puppy to its immediate environment including the house, various day to day sounds, people and pets will help to boost the confidence in your puppy to withstand social stress. 

One should also consider the importance of maternal-pup bond and give ample time for the development of puppy bond with its mother as this will help in reducing the stress as the puppy opens its eyes to the outside world. 

A dog that isn’t socialized with people and other dogs is inclined to suffer from anxiety and stress; such a dog can develop a propensity to exhibit aggressive behavior towards unfamiliar people and animals.

Therefore, exposing your young puppy to various environments, people and other dogs is too important for developing social skills and growing a well rounded and confident adult dog. 

Similarly, early socialization of a Boston Terrier is important, to polish the sociable genetic traits of this dog, with care and patience one can socialize the Boston Terrier puppy with other dog breeds. 

Bostons can have an independent and protective nature that may prompt them to show aggression with other dogs, but with positive reinforcement and supervised puppy play classes, one can ensure that nothing goes wrong during these social interactions.

Once the puppies get acclimatized to the safe environment, they can learn to socialize with other breeds of the same age group. 

Early socialization of Boston puppies with positive social interaction and experiences can boost the social confidence in the puppy and forge a positive trustworthy and friendly relationship between different breeds.

Puppies learn through associative memories. If other dogs get into fight in an unsupervised environment, they may start to feel intimidated and fearful in the presence of other dogs.

Owners should always supervise such interactions making sure that puppies play and interact smoothly without getting into a fight. 

Boston Terrier with Chihuahua

How to Socialize Your Boston Terrier Puppy

Socializing a Boston Terrier puppy may seem a daunting task, but with patience and right guidance it will eventually turn out to be a rewarding experience for both you and your puppy. 

Here are few of the concrete steps that will help you develop a sociable and well mannered Boston Terrier adult that will be good with other dogs:

  • Start at an early age: The first and foremost step is to start socializing your puppy from a young age, consider the puppy mind as a blank canvas and you can paint a positive picture of the world around it. 
  • Gradual introduction of environment: Always start with your home, bring the puppy around various places in the house like restroom, garden, stairs etc. These steps are important before introducing household pets like dogs and cats. This will boost the puppy’s confidence to start exploring its immediate environment on its own.
  • Introduce your family: Moving forward, start the involvement of family, introduce the puppy with the family members, familiarize the puppy with gentle human touch by patting and holding in arms. 
  • Introduce the trained household dogs: The next step in puppy socialization would be to introduce the Boston puppy with other family dogs. Always go slow with such interactions, don’t ever leave the puppy unattended, if you have more dogs it is better to familiarize the puppy one by one. Use commands like ‘NO’ if you observe any signs of hostility or display of aggression. 
  • Sign up for puppy play classes: A great way to socialize a puppy with different breeds of the same age group is to use a playful and joyful environment to your advantage. Puppy play classes are supervised sessions of socialization in which various toys and playing equipment are used to stimulate the natural playing instinct of puppies. In these sessions, puppies begin interacting by getting closer, licking, sniffing and running towards one another. Another way to do this is to invite friends and neighbors with their puppies and create the same social setting in a more familiar environment like a garden. 
  • Sign up for training classes: You can get help from a professional puppy trainer that conducts puppy socialization and training sessions in a park or other location. The advantage of these sessions is that your puppy learns basic obedience training while learning to socialize with other puppies. This gives the owner an edge as one can use commands and positive reinforcement whenever the puppy behaves aggressively with other dogs.

Lastly, once you are done with basic obedience training, home socialization and puppy vaccinations, you can safely take your puppy to the outside environment, for instance, a less crowded park where people walk with their trained pets.

This is a crucial yet challenging step in which you are to take your puppy outside the comfort zone of your home, always be mindful of your puppy behavior and use commands and treats to keep your puppy out of trouble.

Always have a leash on and assess the behavior of other dogs around the park, if you feel safe let your puppy get closer to the other dog, always maintaining a safe distance. 

Once your Boston puppy gets used to regular walks and interactions with people and their dogs in a park, it will learn the art of socializing with unfamiliar dogs without getting anxious. 

Boston Terrier sits on park bench with a Brussels Griffon

Importance of Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a type of dog training in which treats, praises and rewards are used in association with a positive obedient behavior.

For instance, in puppy socialization, when a puppy behaves and greets another puppy and refrains from fighting, this behavior is rewarded and applauded by the owner by offering a treat or petting the puppy. 

The success of positive reinforcement in puppy socialization and training lies in the concept of associative learning behavior of puppies. Puppies learn to behave in a particular way by creating positive and negative associations with certain people, places, actions and behaviors.

A treat in response to an obedient behavior makes an association of reward. Similarly, a negative behavior like aggression during socialization gets associated with withdrawal of treat or cessation of play, etc.

This way, a puppy remembers to behave positively during socialization in order to receive a reward. 

Positive reinforcement is an essential component of early puppy socialization. By utilizing this training method, we can shape a puppy’s behavior, build their confidence, and instill positive associations with socialization experiences and interactions with other dogs.

Through rewards, praise, and play, we create an environment that fosters learning, communication, and healthy play behavior. 

Factors Influencing Friendliness with Other Dogs

There are many factors that can influence the friendliness of your Boston Terrier with other dogs. Here are some of the most important factors:

Spaying and Neutering

Boston terriers will exhibit significant behavior changes after getting spayed or neutered. For instance, reduced incidence of territory marking with urine and less roaming. 

Moreover, reduced testosterone driven aggression in males due to lack of interest in mating reduces competitive fighting among males.

It has been shown that removal of sexual hormones reduces the hyperactivity making some dogs more relaxed and calm. 

All the above mentioned changes can have a positive impact on social compatibility of Boston Terriers with other dogs. A lack of hormonal aggression will forge a friendly relationship between fixed dogs.

On the other hand, the tension and competitive fighting for females when a female intact dog is in heat can have a drastic change in the mood of your Boston and will negatively impact its social relations. 

Therefore, spaying or neutering your Boston Terrier is a plausible approach towards managing aggressive behavior linked to hormones and sexual maturity.

Gender of the Other Dog

Gender conflicts are common in canines, and like any other dog, Boston Terriers engage in fights with other dogs to win over a female for mating.

The pheromones released by a female in heat can attract an intact male towards the female, and the natural competitive instinct kicks in that results in aggressive behavior among male dogs. This issue can be addressed by separating dogs or by neuter/spay procedures.

Same gender friendships are also common among Boston Terriers and other dogs. Male Boston Terriers may feel more comfortable and have an easier time establishing friendships with other male dogs, while female Boston Terriers may gravitate towards bonding with other females.

This preference for same-sex friendships can enhance compatibility and reduce potential conflicts that can arise between dogs of opposite sexes. 

Opposite sex interactions are also possible, a male Boston dog may have a friendly relation with a female dog and vice versa. However, individual personalities and temperament are the deciding factors for compatibility of two dogs no matter the gender. 

Potential conflicts may arise due to competition among a pack of dogs, this competition may arise in the form of scarce resources like food or the desire of acquiring a female mate. In such cases, more dominant and assertive males display aggression towards submissive members of the pack.

In a household, food is rarely an issue, ample food is provided to all dogs separately. The gender conflict can be resolved by separating the female in heat, or getting the dogs spayed and neutered. 

Other Dog’s Breed and Size

Boston Terriers are generally known for their friendly nature, it is important to consider breed and size compatibility when introducing them to other dogs. 

Different dog breeds have varying temperaments, energy levels, and socialization needs. When considering compatibility between Boston Terriers and other dogs, it can be helpful to understand the general characteristics and tendencies of the other breed involved.

Boston Terrier with another dog

For example, some breeds are known to be more assertive or dominant, while others may have a more reserved or independent nature. By considering breed compatibility, you can make informed decisions about which dogs may be a good match for your Boston Terrier’s personality and play style.

Size compatibility is another important consideration when assessing a Boston Terrier’s friendliness towards other dogs.

Boston Terriers are a small to medium-sized breed, typically weighing between 10 and 25 pounds. While they are generally friendly and sociable, they can be more vulnerable in interactions with much larger dogs.

Ensuring that your Boston Terrier is introduced to dogs of appropriate size and compatible play styles can help prevent unintentional injuries or overwhelm during play sessions.

Dog Breeds Compatible with Boston Terriers

Considering the compatibility factor of temperament and size, following breeds are examples of breeds more compatible with Boston Terriers:

  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Dachshund
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Border Collie
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Miniature Poodle

These are just some examples of breeds that a generally compatible with Boston Terriers. It is not a comprehensive list, and just because a breed is on the list doesn’t guarantee a good interaction as each dog is an individual.

Boston Terrier and French Bulldog watch approaching dog at the park

Tips to Make Sure Your Boston Terrier is Friendly With Other Dogs

Ongoing Socialization 

Start socializing your Boston Terrier from a young age. Introduce them to various dogs of different sizes, breeds, and temperaments in controlled and positive environments.

Gradually expose them to different social situations, such as dog parks, group walks, or obedience classes, to help them become comfortable and confident around other dogs. 

This socialization should be continued by providing a safe environment, starting from the household gradually introducing the puppy classes followed by visits to the parks to socialize with unfamiliar dogs.

Positive Reinforcement and Training

As discussed earlier, positive reinforcement training is the most crucial step in training your dog to become socially aware of other dogs and forging positive associations with such interactions using rewards and praises. 

In order to keep the interactions positive, always ensure a safe and stress free environment is provided. Secondly, make sure you know the other dogs are trained and do not exhibit aggressive behavior.

Gradually introduce your Boston Terrier, start with the more compatible breeds of the same size and maintain a safe space. Praise the polite behavior by offering treats, and disapprove any negative behavior by pulling the leash, commanding ‘No’ and taking away the treat.

In this way your Boston will learn to follow a desirable friendly behavior when greeting another dog. 

Monitoring and Managing Interactions

Being a responsible dog owner, it is your duty to monitor interactions with other dogs at all times, whether at home, parks or puppy classes. Only through careful supervision can one ensure the safety of their Boston Terrier, of other dogs and people.

Always intervene using obedience commands to negate violent behaviors during social interactions of Bostons with other dogs. Keep your dog on leash and harness when going for a walk, always pull on leash to maintain a safe distance between your Boston and other dogs. 

Conclusion

The Boston Terrier is an amicable breed that possesses a natural inclination for socialization, making it a friendly companion for other dogs. Their friendly and outgoing nature, when coupled with early socialization and positive reinforcement training, can result in sociable and harmonious interactions.

However, it is important to remember that every dog is a unique individual, and factors such as personality, breed compatibility, temperament and past experiences can influence their behavior.

By providing adequate socialization, training, and a supportive environment, Boston Terrier owners can help foster positive relationships between their beloved pets and other dogs, ensuring a lifetime of mutual trust and companionship.

Dr. Shahzaib Wahid DVM

Dr. Shahzaib Wahid, DVM, currently works an Associate Veterinarian at an animal clinic in Islamabad, Pakistan. As an experienced veterinarian, Dr. Wahid has a passion for providing advice and helping pet owners.

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