Is That Dog Playing?
My pups, Boomer and Dancer and I are going a little nuts with the lack of sunshine in Seattle. DUH. Most people outside of here assume that it really rains all the time and the Heavens are, I think, trying to prove that theory.
I’d really rather go to the dog park and get wet because my very exuberant and very affectionate (especially when they are wet) dogs have been swimming in Lake Washington, NOT because the grass & trees & flowers need to be watered still. No matter, I’m bound to be soaked either way and I have the really good rain gear, but don’t like to wear it.
On the other hand, our neighbor has graciously rebuilt the fence between our yards…one less thing to have to do this summer.
They have a new dog, Huck, whom Dancer adores. Boomer likes him too, but they get overwhelmed when both my dogs visit.
It was nice to have a break of sunshine recently and to go over and sip wine, relax and chat, while watching Dancer and Huck entertain us.
Some dogs are truly a show off!!! Do you know what I mean?
I see this in the play times during classes frequently. Some of the pups, Dancer included, cares more about you watching him play than the actual play. Like a little kid, “Hey Mom! Watch ME!” It is so cute.
I am always reminding people to bend their knees! Keep those knees bent! Why? You don’t want to get knocked down, of course!!!
My favorite is when I have 3 puppies all roughhousing and tumbling around between my legs and I can’t move. It’s like I’m a magnet. I also love the dogs that come in and come straight to me to say hello and get a treat. Like they can’t wait to get into class fast enough.
Today’s TIP: Dog Play
It is good to monitor your dog’s play with other dogs, especially the newer they are to knowing each other, but even then, things can sometime escalate between old friends.
I have a lot of people ask me about “aggression” in play. It’s important to remember that play mimics fighting in a lot of cases. Not all the time, but a lot of it does.
So, what is the biggest difference? INTENTION.
In play, there is no intention to kill or harm. Dogs with good play skills will take little breaks. Sometimes they are only a flash of time, a quick pause, or a fast regroup then go back at it.
Some puppies either know this inherently, or learn it from their siblings and mother at a very young age. Mostly, I believe, it is learned. That is why it is important to not take a pup from its litter too young.
My Alaskan Malamute, Yukon, was given to me at 5 weeks…way too young; fortunately, he had learned this skill and had great play skills.
Some of those skills needed are:
- Ability to stop and catch a breath, rather than going full bore the whole time
- Letting the partner up after being pinned
- Allowing oneself to be pinned or knocked down
- Ability to self-handicap to equal the size and energy level of the partner by making themselves smaller, laying down or crouching down.
- Ability to inhibit biting and holding and pinning
- Ability to communicate, via Play Signals, to the other dog that this is play, no harm intended. More on Play Signals in the near future.
In our next article, we’ll talk about monitoring your dog’s play.
Enjoy your dog!
Honor leash laws and always scoop the poop.