Dogs are Social…
Dogs are very social beings, not only with us but with other dogs as well. It’s important for our dogs to spend time with other dogs. By interacting with others, dogs get exercise, the ability to socialize, mental stimulation, and play can be just plain old fun.
Dog parks allow us the opportunity to have our dogs off-leash, get exercise and enjoy the company of other dogs. Knowing what to be aware of when dogs are playing can mean the difference between a safe, fun time, and our dogs learning unwanted behaviors, becoming injured or having traumatic experiences. Safe dog play generally consists of two dogs both participating and playing in a similar style.
Safety Means Paying Attention
There is a natural rising and falling of the play energy and action (think lots of stops and pauses in the play) and very little contact between the dogs. Dog play with lots of physical contact (over the neck biting, pinning a dog down, slamming, etc.) can quickly turn from play to ﬁghting or aggression.
Keeping your dog safe at the dog park takes vigilance from all the owners there. While at the dog park, owners should be moving throughout the area (don’t just stand around!), frequently calling their dogs back for a break and knowing when to leave if the arousal levels become too high, bullying is happening or you feel your dog is unsafe at any time.
A dog who has had many good experiences in the company of other dogs and is well-socialized to people, sounds, textures, objects – basically a well-rounded dog – is more likely to play well with others. There are also factors that can make our dog an unwelcome visitor to the dog park.
How we play with our dogs inﬂuences how they play with others. When we wrestle or engage in play involving physical contact, our dogs start becoming very physical with other dogs. Dogs that practice lots of rough and tumble play with either housemates or at the dog park (especially during their adolescent period between 6 months and 3 years), can become the
relentless, hard (but not appropriate) playing dog.
At DogBoy’s we help facilitate the appropriate interactions between dogs by selecting our play group dogs by personality, play style, temperament and size. Our playgroups have between 4-7 dogs. We even select groups around the play style of an individual dog. That rough and tumble dog, for example, is placed with dogs who won’t encourage or engage in that play style and will even help communicate more appropriate interactions. Or a dog that enjoys being chased may spend time with an appropriate chaser, but we don’t put all the “chase me”/chaser dogs together because play can quickly become lop-sided, over aroused, and out of control. And if play does start to become out of control, staff is there to remove and readjust the play group for more proper, positive interactions.
We also provide plenty of opportunities for the dogs to really stretch their legs and have a good run or if it’s more their style, a long exploring and snifﬁng session in our fenced back
ﬁve acres. And nothing is better than watching happy dogs sunbathing, hanging out in our bone and paw-shaped pools and enjoying rolling in the grass.
Dog-to-dog play, when we know what to look for, prevent any unwanted behaviors and provide an enjoyable experience for the dogs, is such a beneﬁcial activity. The staff at DogBoy’s welcomes your dog to come enjoy our ﬁfteen acres, friendly dogs and the ability to play to his heart’s content.
If you’d like to learn more about safe dog play, click to speak to one of our Certified professional dog trainers. That’s what we’re here for!
Blog post by Paula Baker Prince, DogBoy’s Director of Training