Wednesday, July 26, 2006


So many people freak when their dogs play and I find that so sad. It's SO important for dogs to play. Dog play looks much worse than it really is. When done right there is a lot of growling and ear tugging and face chewing and chasing and even a bit of humping going on.

Owners will look at me horrified and ask "Isn't that too rough?"
My answer is usually that yes, it's too rough for me but the dogs seem to be enjoying it. Soccer is too rough for me but most of the world seems to enjoy it.
Go figure.

If I am uncomfortable with the play and think that one of the dogs is not having fun, I take the dog I think is being too rough (NOT the one I think isn't having fun), out of the play and then watch to see what the other puppy does. If that puppy comes bouncing back for more than I was wrong and I let the pups go back to it. If however the other pups goes and hides between someone's legs or just goes off in a different direction I will know it was too rough. I find something else for the rough pup to do or someone else for him to play with.

I don't stand idly and watch large groups of dogs play if they are not really good friends. I sort of work the crowd. I walk amongst the dogs, praising the ones who are playing gently and who aren't say, playing tug of war with my water hose. I guide the rowdies into gentle play with just a couple of encouragements "easy" and "gentle".
I break up any tense situations by just walking quietly in between the dogs with my arms folded at my back.

This weekend I watched two dogs who had never played together before play.
One was a Boxer and one was a Lab. Neither was familiar with the other's style of play. So the Lab reacted to the Boxers first jab to her butt by turning and roaring at him!!! How was she to know that Boxers box?

The Boxer wasn't used to the way that a Lab will stick a toy in your face and as soon as you go for it they quickly turn their head away so you can't get the toy.
The Boxer sat down, cocked his head like "Hey, I thought you wanted to play tug?".

Which the Lab did and she repeated the gesture again and again, until the Boxer got one end of the toy and then they were off and running, stopping occasional to wrestle and box. It's better than watching TV I'll tell you what!


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