Baden gaining confidence in play.

While many of us watch dogs play, we often wonder if the dogs are having as much fun as we think.

I believe it is important that both dogs are chasing, being chased and sharing time on top equally.  If not, stepping in and creating pauses in the play will be beneficial to the less experienced dog.

When a play session is one sided, meaning one dog is constantly on top of the other, this is not equal play.  While you may not hear any growling, one dog may just be coping and not enjoying the play.

Try taking the collar or harness of the dog on top and gently pull him away.  Now, see what happens?  Does the dog on the bottom run away in need of a break?  Does he lunge or run back to the dog on top as if to say “come on, let’s play”!  This simple test will give you confirmation that everyone is feeling okay about the interaction.

Baden a young pup playing with Pablo

Interrupting the play with short pauses will allow the dogs to lower their arousal and have a brief conversation about their intentions.  Watch as they look at each other or away, kiss faces, move closer or farther away.

In the photo to the right, Brady the 5 month old pup was a bit worried to play with a bigger adult dog.  Pablo began to “handicap” himself getting lower and lower to encourage Baden to play with him.  I asked Pablo to take many breaks as I could tell his type of play was a bit over whelming for Baden.

Before long these two were in constant motion and I was reassured each time I removed either dog, the other one came at us wanting more. Knowing the play was fun for both dogs was a win win!