Dogs are complex creatures. Sure, they seem to keep busy with the same rubber toy day after day, and they don’t care if they eat the exact same food every day, but when it comes to emotions and mental capacity, there’s a lot about dogs we often underestimate.
One of these facets of dog psychology is their inter-species relationships or their relationships with other dogs. There is no doubt dogs like playing together and may quickly become friends, but what about becoming a bonded pair?
That’s a more profound connection than just playmates or friends. In most cases, dogs who are a bonded pair struggle to function without their other half and can develop anxiety or depression when they’re separated.
Often, this bonding may happen between a dog and a human, which is a big cause of separation anxiety in dogs, but when two dogs form a bonded pair, they may not have the will to live or enjoy their lives without their counterpart.
There are also different types of bonded pairs:
- Familial bonds: these often develop into the strongest relationships and usually occur between siblings or puppies and their mom. It can get especially difficult if these pairs are separated after the pup has turned 9 weeks old.
- Trauma or grief-induced bonds: When puppies are put in the pound or shelter together, they may become close friends and develop a bond that leaves them inseparable after their lifetimes filled with fear or traumatic experiences.
- Proximity bonds: Believe it or not, but if dogs spend enough time together, they will eventually become very close friends as long as they start off on the right foot. Their bond may not be as strong as the other two mentioned above, but under the right circumstances, they may become inseparable.
This article covers the X top signs that could indicate your dogs are bonded to each other.
20 Signs Your Dogs Are a Bonded Pair
1. They Sniff Each Other (More Than Usual)
Dogs sniff for one main reason: to get the lay of the land. There are two anal sacs positioned near their behinds that produce pheromones and scents that can tell other dogs lots about their gender, happiness, owner, the food they eat, and their overall health.
Sniffing isn’t only important when a dog meets a new friend, though. It can be a sign of companionship, interest, and friendliness when dogs sniff each others’ butts or bodies repetitively.
Although this sign may occur in dogs that are simply friends, bonded pairs find comfort in each others’ presence and scent, which may mean they sniff each other way more often and for much longer than usual.
Basically, the equivalent of new parents constantly wanting to sniff their new baby’s baby smell.
2. They Play Together, A Lot
Playing is an important part of any puppy or dog’s development, and most dogs will play with anyone who seems up for the challenge.
It can teach them social skills, how hard it is okay to bite, and benefits their motor skills. But playing is also how dogs build their friendships. Some dogs go to the park and only play with one or two friends if they’re around. Other dogs refuse to play except with one sibling or other pet.
If your dogs exclusively play with each other or play with each other more than they play with any other dogs, it could show they have a stronger emotional bond than their relationships with other dogs.
Often, these dogs refuse to play when their other half isn’t around. This could also be a sign of separation anxiety, so you should keep an eye out for its symptoms in your pup.
3. They Share Food
Dogs are the direct descendants of wolves and, although they’ve been domesticated for hundreds of years, they still maintain many of their wolf-like characteristics. Traditionally, wolves lived in packs with strong hierarchies that determine who gets to eat when.
If your dog is going against all its instincts to protect and preserve its food and is sharing it with another one of your dogs, it is very likely they are bonded or in the process of becoming a bonded pair.
Sharing food between dogs is a good indicator of the strength of the relationship between them.
4. They Share Toys
Dogs are creatures that work hard to please their owners, trainers, and even their fellow dogs, who they hold in high esteem. Sure, there are some dogs who are more eager to please their owners than others, but in most cases, dogs understand that a relationship between animals of their kind goes both ways.
And so, one of the other ways you can know if your dogs are bonded or have a strong friendship is through the sharing of toys. I’m sure we’ve all seen dogs who growl whenever someone comes near their ball or bone, and it’s a natural instinct for them to protect what’s theirs.
If your dog is going out of its way to share with another pup, you’ve likely got two very good friends who have a strong enough bond to put the other’s wants above their own.
Another way dogs can show their love for each other is an enthusiasm for playing, which could mean one dog bringing its toys to the other as an encouragement for them to start playing together or at least give them some attention.
5. They Share The Same Bed
Dogs are highly social animals who love being in the company of other animals, especially humans and other dogs. Since they are descendants of wolves, they are pack animals who live to build friendships with other creatures.
From birth, dogs learn to cuddle with their siblings and mother for warmth and security. If your dogs who aren’t related are sharing a bed or sleeping close to each other every night, there’s a good chance they have a special bond that is stronger than that of usual playmates.
6. They Get Sad When They’re Separated
We all know dogs can experience separation anxiety from their humans, but dogs are also capable of experiencing separation anxiety from another dog they are strongly bonded to.
Grief and sadness when they are separated temporarily or by unfortunate circumstances are very real emotions for dogs. Although there’s no way for them to tell us how they feel, dogs with separation anxiety usually exhibit the following symptoms:
- Barking, howling and whining
- Chewing or digging
- Other destructive behavior
- Lack of interest in toys or games
- Sleeping more than usual
Separation anxiety between dogs can be crippling and shouldn’t be taken lightly. The powerful bond between these dogs isn’t only crucial to their happiness but could even affect their overall health.
And if this is making you feel sad, there are dozens of stories of bonded dogs who were reunited to put a smile on your face.
7. They Protect Each Other
We all know dogs can be trained to be or are naturally protective of their humans or owners, but did you know many dogs may start showing protective behavior when the other half of their bond is around?
This is most commonly seen in dogs who were in an abused household or entered a shelter together. Once they are adopted together, the larger or more dominant pup may be aggressive when their friend is approached.
In many cases, protective behavior may take a much milder form, simply being expressed by one dog being watchful over another. Still, this protective or jealous instinct can be harmful to your dogs and you in some cases.
If your dog is becoming aggressive when you interact with their bonded friend, you may need to get a behavioral specialist involved.
8. They Spend All Their Time Together
Dogs can be picky over who they play with and spend their days with. If you have more than three or four dogs, you may find some of them develop stronger friendships than others.
If your pups seem to be joined at the hip, spend their playtime, naps, and feeding time together, there’s a good chance they are bonded.
9. They Groom Each Other
If you’ve ever seen a mother dog with her pups, I’m sure you’ve noticed the mom does a lot of licking. She licks her puppies’ faces, butts, bodies, ears, and everything in between.
Licking is a form of grooming that can also be used to promote the healing of wounds.
Some of the most common reasons dogs lick each other when they are adults include:
- Showing submission to a bigger or more dominant dog may involve the beta licking the alpha’s face or chin.
- An invitation to play: Your dog may lick another dog to show that they want to play. This could happen between complete strangers or long-time friends. If they’re going to play, the licking may be accompanied by play bowing and barking.
- As a sign of affection and bonding: Dog licks are their equivalent of kisses, so licking each other could simply be a sign of affection.
However, in the case of bonding, dogs may lick each other excessively, indicating their bond has developed to the point where one dog is caring for the other’s needs by attempting to groom them.
10. They Cuddle Each Other
Outside of sleeping in the same bed, dogs who are bonded may often cuddle each other and snuggle up to one another even when they’re just lying around or resting.
Dogs usually cuddle for warmth and protection, but cuddling could also release feel-good neurotransmitters that boost their mood and make them feel happy and fulfilled.
Cuddling goes way back to when puppies would snuggle up to their mom for warmth, and there’s a good chance they reawaken all those puppy memories when they squish up into their friend’s personal space.
11. They Recognize Each Others’ Names
Dogs don’t usually make an effort to remember the sounds made for things they don’t feel strongly about. It’s the reason your dog instantly knows the difference between “bath” and “walk” but wouldn’t give “phone” a second thought.
If you mention your dog’s bonded pair by name and its ears perk up, it starts showing signs of excitement or looks toward the door in anticipation. It’s likely your pup has learned their friend’s name.
This could indicate your dog’s intelligence but is most commonly an indicator of a strong relationship and overall like towards the dog whose name was mentioned.
12. They Get Depressed When the Other Is Sick
Dogs have such powerful senses of smell they are being used by researchers to identify patients with cancer or diabetes.
There’s a good chance your dog will know something is wrong with their bonded pair long before you do, and if their friend gets sick, it may make them depressed or unhappy as they sense their distress.
This links to separation anxiety, especially if their other half has to spend time at the vet, and could be as strong an indicator as any that they are bonded and share a really strong friendship.
13. They Roll Over During Play Or Sleep
Dogs usually roll onto their backs as a sign of submission and deference to another dog. Dogs’ stomachs are the most vulnerable part of their bodies when bitten, so for your dog to sleep next to another dog on its back, or to lie on its back while they play, is a powerful indicator of the trust shared between the two pups.
When combined with other signs like sleeping in the same bed or sharing food, feeling comfortable enough to expose their tummies while they sleep next to each other is as good a sign as any that your pups are bonded.
14. They Stare At Each Other
Dog staring comes in a variety of forms. It could be seen as a challenge, an invitation to play, or a sign of aggression.
However, long, peaceful gazing into each other’s eyes or following each others’ movements is a strong indicator your dogs share an unusually strong bond. This is especially true if the staring is accompanied by soft body language and a sense of calm.
15. They Lie On Top of Each Other
Dogs in a bonded pair usually have no sense of personal space and may plop on top of each other at random intervals throughout the day. This behavior was learned as puppies but could signify that they are close friends with an exceptionally strong, albeit at times annoying, bond.