He Only Wants To Play

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Nettle
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He Only Wants To Play

Post by Nettle » Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:04 am

Our dogs are our dear friends and companions, but people they ain't. Nor are they children, babies, furbabies, forever doglets, fellow pack members - anything but dogs.

So when you get your dog, do not infantalise him. Clear your mind of any idea that he needs "friends" to "play" with. Nor does he want sleepovers, or to be in a social club. He doesn't do sharing: he does Mine. When a dog runs up to yours, or yours lunges at another dog, they do not want to "play". They want to see which of them is stronger, which will back down, which can be bullied or chased away. If one dog already has history with others, it may be trying to drive off the other dog before it can attack.

Dogs do "play" in that they replicate natural behaviour - hunting, herding, chasing, fighting, mating - as puppies. Because most of our pet dogs are neutered before they are fully developed, and socialising is often missed out, many retain this puppy behaviour (lots of humans like that puppyness) into adulthood. What we may see is our sweet dog wanting to "play" but what the other dog sees is an unmannerly lout. Play isn't what they are about to do.

Dogs do form friendships with other dogs, and enemy-ships too, but neither of these is natural, or a foregone conclusion. We don't like everyone we meet, and nor do dogs. If you have a dog and want to get another, your existing dog is not going to see the new one as a playmate or a little brother or sister, but as a rival. Intelligent human help can sometimes turn this around and the dogs can come to enjoy each other's company - or at least tolerate each other.

Some very unhappy incidents, owners and dogs have resulted from this idea that dogs "only want to play" when they run up to other dogs. Please don't let them. If the dogs seem mellow, and the other person agrees that they can interact, if they play bow and wag and "smile" all should go well, but please don't presume this will happen every time, and never let your dog run up to another unless and until the owner agrees.

So - once more for emphasis - he does not want to play and he does not want doggie friends. You are not lacking as an owner if your dog does not go to "parties". Never forget that he is a dog - a slightly altered wolf, not a slightly altered person. Love him for what he is - wonderful, and so different from us.
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Leigha
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by Leigha » Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:44 am

I used to feel bad that Bruiser couldn't handle the dog park. I was the "mom" who had the "kid" that no one liked to play with, but it's just not what Bruiser really wants or needs, and it took me almost a full year to realize that. Our last venture to the dog park kind of solidified it for me that Bruiser doesn't need to go to the dog park to be "normal" he's one of the dogs that's perfectly fine not having other "doggie friends." He'd rather stay at home with his humans and play fetch, go for a bike ride, or go for a nature walk and swim in the river. Those are all so much less stressful to him and much more enjoyable for all of us than forcing him to go to the dog park. So now rather than have the guilt of having the dog who can't play well with others, I have the guilt of knowing that I tried to push my square dog into the dog park's round hole and force him into doing something he's just not into. But now that I know that we won't push the idea.

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Mattie
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by Mattie » Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:49 am

Very good Nettle :D
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Noobs
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by Noobs » Sat Apr 10, 2010 9:11 am

Thank you, Nettle. Learning that here over the last year has helped me accept that Murphy will never have "playdates" or anything else that some dog owner acquaintances of mine do with their dogs. Murphy can say hi to dogs on leash, sniff and play bow without incident (a couple of nights ago we got to do that with three dogs in one walk!), and I'm satisfied with that.

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***Melissa***
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by ***Melissa*** » Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:15 am

Nettle wrote:So when you get your dog, do not infantalise him. Clear your mind of any idea that he needs "friends" to "play" with. Nor does he want sleepovers, or to be in a social club.
This is exactly how I used to think. When we got Striker I treated him exactly as one would a baby, and that was the reason we got Bibi...after we had Bibi for about 2 weeks I think I found this forum and our lifes changed. Fortunately Striker & Bibi get along very well, but it could just as well been so different.

During the last few months I learned so much, and though I feel extremely guilty for all the mistakes I've made, I'm glad I have the chance to try and make up for it.
There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~Ben Williams

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Mattie
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by Mattie » Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:09 am

Guilt is negative and has nothing to do with positive reinforcement so get rid of it, you have learnt from your mistakes and that is what matters. :P
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Lorrie
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by Lorrie » Wed May 26, 2010 12:24 pm

That is sound advise Nettle!!! But, it sure would be nice if my dog could handle seeing other dogs walking by, or even from a distance with out freaking out, I rescued her from the shelter at 10 months (she is 2 now). She obviously had a very bad experience or was never socialized, which leads to my question. I don't expect her to be a social butterfly, but how can I get her to not go ballistic when she see's other dogs or cats or squirrels, even on TV? I have covered all mirrors, glass, windows, I avoid walks where I& when we will encounter other dogs, we have succeeded with the dog barking CD, I have spent over 5 hundred on a personal trainer, who got her to accept a stuffed pony, (2 hours it took to get close enough for Lola to sniff a stuffed animals behind!) I have 2 more hours left with this trainer and I am not in a position to spend more money, which i feel is the trainers strategy for prolonging this situation. (it is going on 9 weeks!) May be i was hoping in 6 sessions we would have worked Victoria Stillwell's magic. So any advise on more ways to help with this very difficult situation? This is the second summer I am not enjoying going hiking with my companion, Lola. I am feeling like I am imprisoned with this dog who can't go and enjoy all the places I Love to walk. PLEASE HELP!
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by emmabeth » Thu May 27, 2010 5:01 am

Can you start a thread about your dog over in the training advice section? Give us as much detail as possible about her daily routine and also what you are working on and how, wiht this trainer.

Unfortunately these things DO tend to take quite some time to fix, which is an annoying but unavoidable downside of tv shows - they just cannot show you realistically how much work and how long something may take (Though Victoria does make it quite clear that it does take work unlike some shows I have seen!).

Do start a post for her over in the advice section though as we will be able to help you out I am sure!
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Wicket
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by Wicket » Thu May 27, 2010 6:58 am

I think part of the problem is that some people don't know how to read dog body language. While a dog that wants to play may lunge at the other but it's usually after both dogs have play bowed, wagging their tails--the universal sign of "play." If anyone is interested in dog body language (complete with pictures), see "How to Speak Dog" by Stanley Coren.

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Appa_valley
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by Appa_valley » Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:52 am

Mattie wrote:Guilt is negative and has nothing to do with positive reinforcement so get rid of it, you have learnt from your mistakes and that is what matters. :P
Thank you Mattie, THAT is exactly what I needed to hear. :)

nikki080794
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by nikki080794 » Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:30 am

I used to worry about this when my dog was a puppy. He is seven now and though I do not worry about it anymore, he has bad behavior. I swear he is getting worse with age. He is a German Shepherd, so extremely strong. We do take him out on regular walks but we try to go at times when there aren't many dogs about. Whenever he sees another dog, he is not aggressive (unless the dog is aggressive to him first, because then he becomes overprotective of me) he just wants to see a dog! He gets very excited and almost pulls me over in the process. If the owner is okay with it I let him sniff the other dog because thats all he wants to do, after seeing the dog I can pull him away and continue with the walk.
We used to take him to puppy classes but he grew too big too quickly and ended up standing on the other puppies! It would be fine if the owners lets him sniff the other dog, but when they dont he will pull me over to them, and because he is a German Shepherd sometimes the other owners fret and I dont blame them! I have tried various methods: making him sit as the dog passes, getting a harness so I can control him better and taking treats to grab his attention but nothing seems to be working! If anyone has any solutions, please help. It is getting worse and very embarrassing!! PLEASE HELP !! :P

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Sabrina
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by Sabrina » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:06 pm

Hey Nikki - glad you found this forum! Your question might get lost here - if you go and post it in the "Dog Training Advice" section it would be easier for people to see it/help you out. Also, it might help you to read through this thread viewtopic.php?f=4&t=7690, especially the advice from Jacksdad.

Secret Someone
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by Secret Someone » Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:40 am

This is going to probably sound like a stupid question...

But when dogs do do what we call 'playing' (chasing each other, play bowing, pouncing around together etc), are they doing it for fun or because they need to? I mean... when Pan has had 'play mates' it has looked enjoyable to both parties. I'm not entirely sure if perhaps 'enjoy' means something different to a dog than to us.

For example, the last dog he played with was a yorkie called Elmo. It was in a house. There was a third dog who didn't want to join in and sat on the sofa watching. Both dogs went into a play bow, and then without losing the full bowing they pounces around each other in a circular motion. Then they would both bow again, and then either both at the same time or one of them would start the pouncing again. The yorkie went on his hind legs a few times to reach Pan, and barked at him when they were bowing (it sounded like excitable chatter to me), but Pan didn't (he doesn't with small dogs at all). Both tails were wagging... ears weren't alert in the same way as when there is a scary noise, but were up a bit. After playing they curled up on the floor together for a sleep, spooning.

What does this mean? I'm really confused. It didn't look like one was threatening the other or that one was scared. They looked like they were having fun. But then I kept thinking about this thread and it made it feel very complicated!

So I guess my question is... Is it fun for them to play? Is it like a game? I always assumed so (when it goes well, of course) but now I feel a bit confused. Sorry. :oops: :oops:

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Ari_RR
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by Ari_RR » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:01 am

I agree completely, this is confusing, reading dog body language is difficult.. I have this problem every time we go to dog park. I can tell by now with a degree of certainty when Ari enjoys a play, or when he is getting annoyed. But I can't at all be sure with the other dogs, so when he plays with another dog in this ridgeback way ( body slamming, etc ) I try to make sure the other owner is near by, and I keep checking with him/her if their dog is enjoying the play, or they want me to call Ari off.. assuming that they would known their dog, which is not always the case.

The key for me is to err on the side of caution, and if something feels wrong, I step in and call Ari off.. Because if any one of them snaps and attacks, it only takes a few seconds to cause serious harm, unfortunately with Ari we've had a proof of how lethal he can be (when he was attacked by an off leash dog), and I don't want to ever have a repeat, so better safe then sorry on this one..

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Nettle
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Re: He Only Wants To Play

Post by Nettle » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:14 pm

It's a complex issue taken dog by dog, and that's when we need to observe both dogs in case things turn nasty - as they sometimes do when children play as well. "It'll end in tears" was often said in my youth, when children playing changed in sound first, then action, then the game turned into something more reactive and competitive, somebody got out of their depth and - tears.

Games between adult dogs are usually a test of strength - mental and physical. Sometimes dogs will enjoy a game, but often one will suddenly feel out of its depth and the other may capitalise on this - or, if a confident dog, will not need to, and the game will simply fizzle out.

For example, my youngest dog is very fast, and enjoys a game of chase. Quite often dogs will chase her, but rarely are they in her league for running. Because she is a well-adjusted dog, she will run slowly so the other dog can think it is nearly catching her, and she will change from chaser to chasee, which is another sign of well-adjusted play.

Some dogs get nasty when they can't catch her, and some get demoralised and won't chase any more. Because she is a well-adjusted dog, she then runs back to me. If she were a bullying type, that would be the time when, having demoralised the other dog and taken it out of its comfort zone, she would then attack it.

Sometimes, as SS describes, two dogs will play really nicely together with every sign of enjoyment, and then settle down together. These would be dogs that do not fear each other and are happy in each other's company.

Watch dogs 'play' every chance you get. It will teach you loads that is well worth learning. These observations can be taken into human activities too, especially sport, but also in the boardroom.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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