Dogs, particularly those recovering from trauma, often have a mistrust of humans. We lie to them far too often. We call them to us to put on a leash and end the fun, ask them to face situations they find truly frightening, and often even pet them in ways they don’t enjoy.
Dogs tend to tell the truth to one another though. If a dog lets another dog know, through nonverbal communication, that a new human or dog is not scary, or that a situation is actually safe, the fearful dog will often get through their fear more quickly. Play is a particularly effective way for dogs to heal one another from fear, to decrease over-arousal, and to teach important social skills for their future as pets.
Social facilitation is a modality that is often overlooked by trainers, shelter workers, and sports competitors alike. If a dog has (or can learn) social skills with other dogs, stable canine friends can be used to help build coping skills and help dogs heal from traumatic experiences.