Positive Play Between Dogs
Although Linus is definitely a scaredy boy, he is a ridiculously social dog with those of his own kind. There is nothing more than he wants in life than to be with other dogs and play. Although Shayne and Rio are friendly, they are a bit intense and forward/pushy/not great body language when they play. He’ll play with them here or there, chase them around outside, and Rio has moments of really great and appropriate play but their play is generally pretty short because he gets overwhelmed.
This past weekend I took Shayne and Rio to hike at the farm for a few hours with their buddy, Meika and her mom. After a few hours running at the farm and finding trouble to get into, Meika’s mom wanted to come over to meet Linus (everyone wants to meet Linus because he’s such a silly boy). Initially Meika’s mom came into the yard to without her to see Mr. Linus and get to say hi to him but after a few minutes, I put my dogs inside and we let Meika and Linus greet. We started with on-leash greeting (since I know Meika and Linus are both capable of friendly on-leash greetings) and that went beautifully so we decided to let them play in the yard.
The first few minutes were spent just walking around and giving some play signals but both were a little unsure of how to go about the play. At one point Meika had two feet on my steps and was trying to play-bow to Linus who was on the porch. Eventually someone just went for it and they went zipping around for a very short play-session before Linus took to the safety of the porch. He was on the porch for just a few seconds before pouncing down toward Meika and going off to play more.
Their play was some of the most perfect play that I have seen in a long time. It was bouncy and curvy, wiggly and moderately paced, lots of pauses and self handicapping by the much larger Meika.
I shot this video after about 5-10 minutes of them playing. Meika was getting tired since she had already been hiking for a few hours (and flushed some deer) but they had a really great time. There lots of great examples of very appropriate play and how to identify good play.
Here are some things to watch for:
- Loose bodies
- Curved approaches
- Tons of roll reversals (less as Meika gets tired)
- Lots of pauses in the play
- Relaxed open mouths
- Play bows
- Both dogs initiate the play after pauses
- Super duper extra bouncy Linus (those little hops are ridiculously cute!)
- Self handicapping by Meika
It’s so refreshing to see such appropriate play. Shayne and Rio’s play, while absolutely mutual in nature, is way more intense and over the top (and not entirely appropriate, though getting better). I love seeing Linus get to let loose and just play and play with another dog and be happy and confident!