We recently came across a great blog post about dog play, and how various ‘styles’ of dog play are perceived by us humans. In the context of dog daycare, play is the primary means of socialization; supervised and ‘guided’ dog daycare leads to strong, healthy dog-to-dog relationships.
At Dawg House we help to ‘guide’ dogs toward development of proper socialization skills primarily through positive reinforcement: when we see dogs playing together in a healthy way, we give them verbal encouragement; when we see dogs that are using ‘negative’ means of interaction with others (and us humans), we redirect them until they exhibit positive behavior, then reinforce that with praise.
This blog post we found starts off with one of the most familiar scenes to those of us who work with dogs for a living:
“That’s just how he plays” is one of the most feared phrases at any dog park. Whenever I hear this comment, it’s a virtual certainty that I will turn around and see some sort of wildly inappropriate and possibly dangerous behavior being exhibited by the dog being discussed.
Identifying and correcting (redirecting) these sorts of behaviors is one of our primary jobs as daycare providers. Most dog do eventually catch on to the social signals the group is sending, modifying their own behavior, but the process is much safer and progresses more quickly in a controlled daycare environment.
One of the best parts of this blog post is how it illustrates positive play versus inappropriate play:
Appropriate play usually involves chasing, parallel running, rolling around together, batting with paws, and brief pounces at one another. Well-matched dogs can vary in size, breed and age, but their styles of play need to be compatible.
Beware … of dogs who are relentlessly mounting, clasping, or thrusting, or of dogs who constantly try to lay their head, paws, or whole bodies across the shoulders of another dog, all of which is exceedingly rude behavior.
We’ve written lots of posts here on the Dawg House Dog Daycare Blawg talking about playgroups, dog behavior, socialization, daycare etiquette, and play styles. Search around for more right here, but be sure to click on and read the full article, here:
Dog Behavior Blog: Canine Play by Karen B. London
Good stuff! Woof!