Posts Tagged ‘dog play’

Are these dogs having fun or not? I weigh in with my observations.

June 24, 2014 7 comments

Yesterday, I shared a video (see below) of two Great Danes interacting with one another and asked you to weigh in. It was great to see so many responses and to see so many tune in to the behaviors and over all reactions by the fawn-colored Dane, Dexter. There were quite a few people who said they would have intervened or would have left the park. I have to agree. I probably would have left. When my dog is not having fun it is time to go. The goal is to make sure that they have as many positive interactions as possible.

I still see in my mind the woman who came to our dog park with her cattle dog. The dog was clearly afraid to be there and kept hiding behind her owner and jumping up on her for reassurance as dogs chased her or tried to get her to play. The owner’s reaction was to knee her in the chest. Augh! Talk about an owner completely ignorant of her dog’s body language and needs.

Anyways, back to the video. Below is my assessment of what I saw – not only in terms of body language, but in summary form as well.

So what do you think? Did I miss something that you may have noticed? Feel free to share!

My assessment

The two dogs involved:

  • Dexter (fawn-colored Great Dane)
  • Austin Gray (gray Great Dane)
In the first 6 seconds of the video, both Austin and Dexter seem relaxed and friendly. 
  • Bodies are side by side and heads are turned slightly towards one another.
  • Dexter paws out at Austin and Austin moves sideways with Dexter following.
  • Dexter’s mouth is relaxed and his tail is wagging at mid-height.
  • Dexter sniffs at Austin’s privates and Austin turns head slightly towards Dexter. Tail is wagging at mid-height.
  • Austin darts down and away from Dexter.
The video transitions to another moment in time.
  • Dexter is seen walking away from another dog in a relaxed gait and tail up.
  • Austin runs in towards Dexter’s side and places his head over Dexter’s shoulder and leans into his side.
  • Dexter turns his head sideways towards Austin and leans away, turns head and lifts paw.
  • Austin jumps up and swipes his paw up onto Dexter’s butt.
  • At 12 seconds – Dexter spins towards Austin.
  • At 14 seconds, Dexter’s head is high and turned towards Austin. His body is leaning forward. He makes a move to sniff Austin’s privates again, stops and then turns his head to the side.
  • Austin’s body position is slightly hunched, tail is wagging in a fast side to side manner, his head is turned towards Dexter.
  • At 16 seconds, Austin jumps sideways to Dexter and forces head over Dexter’s shoulder.
  • Dexter moves slightly away from him, his ears are back, and his tail is down.
  • Austin places both paws on Dexter’s back and mounts him.
  • Another dog enters the scene as Austin puts his paws up on Dexter’s back.
  • When Austin mounts, Dexter turns one way and then they other to get Austin off his back.
  • The 3rd dog appears to lunge towards Dexter for a second before he runs off.
  • Dexter gets Austin off his back, but Austin immediately places one of his paws on his back and tries to mount him again.
  • Dexter whips around towards Austin, teeth are bared as he lunges towards him.
  • Austin leans his body down and away from Dexter and then runs sideways away from Dexter.
  • Dexter lunges toward him again, teeth bared.
  • Dexter pursues Austin mouth open and teeth bared. Austin veers away. They both stop standing almost side by side as they exchange a look.
  • Austin looks away and wags tail slowly. Tail is high.
  • Dexter looks away and starts to move away from Dexter. His fur is pileated.
  • Austin pounces towards him and then stands with body leaning backwards and tail wagging.
  • Dexter freezes and Austin looks away.
  • Dexter leans towards him and Austin leaps away playfully. Dexter walks trots away.
This same type of behavior continues throughout the next 3 minutes. Dexter conveys his desire to be left alone in numerous ways – look aways, pileated fur on his back and neck, body freezes, stares, turning away, running away, lunging and baring teeth. Multiple times Dexter goes back towards the woman in the blue coat (his owner) as if to say “save me!”, but instead she pushes him back towards Austin or merely walks away. Close to the 3-minute mark, Dexter completely runs away. But between the 3 and 4 minute mark, Dexter seems to engage with Austin. He runs away, but comes back and re-engages. He’s no longer lunging with teeth bared, but actually doing mouthing gestures with a soft mouth. At 3:55 he actually does a play bow and Austin returns it.
Dexter is clearly not comfortable with Austin’s play style. He may not have a lot of experience with other dogs (or other Great Danes), but  whether or not he does, he clearly is not comfortable. Over and over again, he runs away from Austin and looks for ways to disengage. To be honest, Austin is a little too forward and ignores Dexter’s body language over and over again. His constant move to mount is clearly not something Dexter likes or wants to tolerate. I would have wanted Austin’s owner to intervene to stop the behavior.
However, despite Austin’s behavior, there are also times when Dexter  seems to enjoy engaging with him (e.g., in the middle and  end of the video). He even offers a play bow and Austin returns it.
One thing I did notice is that Dexter appeared to be extremely uncomfortable whenever a third dog entered the group. Hit may have been too overwhelming for him, especially if he is relatively inexperienced in playing with other dogs, he seemed to make a point of removing himself from the situation whenever a third dog joined the group.
If I had been the owner, I would have given Dexter a break and removed him from the park. . While he eventually does engage with Austin later on and does end up playing with him, the appears uncomfortable and nervous for most of the video, constantly running away from Austin and the situation. Many times he goes to his owner for relief and she ignores him or pushes him back into the fray. I think a better option would have been to leave and let Dexter have some time to relax and not feel stressed out. Forcing a dog to endure an uncomfortable or fearful situation can be a recipe for trouble. Dog parks are not for every dog and knowing how your dog feels in one should be of paramount importance. In the end, understanding what your dog is saying can be the difference between a successful interaction and a not so good one.

Are these dogs having fun or not? You decide.

June 23, 2014 13 comments

I think for many of us, recognizing when dogs are playing and when they are not can be difficult. Most of the time it isn’t until it has gone to the next level that we realize it is not play at all.

I remember the first time I brought my dog, Aspen, to a dog park. I wasn’t sure what behaviors I should consider safe or what should be considered concerning. I didn’t always recognize when she wasn’t having fun anymore and I should intervene. Thankfully, Aspen was very sophisticated in dog speak and would walk away when she didn’t like a dog’s behavior, and if they didn’t listen, she would give them a warning to let them know she had had enough.

Since having Aspen, I’ve gotten much better at reading dog body language in my dogs as well as in other dogs. I am more likely to intervene where I think trouble is about to start, but has not yet escalated, because I can see one dog is not having fun or there is a bullying situation going on.

Do you know when your dog is having fun and when he/she is not? Are you able to recognize when play has turned into something else?

I thought I would share a video of two (sometimes three) Great Danes interacting with one another at the park and let you weigh in. These dogs may be playing or not playing. They may or may not be having fun. Can you tell the difference?

What do you see in the first two to three minutes of this video?

Are the dogs having fun or not?

What body movements does each dog make that leads you to your conclusion?

Feel free to share what body movements or other things in the video stood out and helped you make your decision. If you get a chance scoot ahead and watch the last 2 minutes of the video. What do you see? Does it change your mind?

I’ll weigh in tomorrow and share my observations and what I think was happening. I look forward to your comments! (You can now see my assessment below.)

Favorite Video Friday – The Greyhound Sneak Attack

May 3, 2013 9 comments

I had trouble deciding which video to share this Friday. Did I want to go with slow, sweet and adorable? Or, fast, funny and suspenseful? Such a decision!

I’ll let you see which one I chose, but I will tell you that the first two minutes of this are my favorite,here’s a chase in the middle that will make you smile too. I hope you like it.

Curious about the one I left out? Head on over to my Facebook page to see it. It’s very sweet.

Happy Friday everyone!

Dog Body Language – Do you recognize some of these behaviors in your own dog?

March 24, 2013 25 comments

IMG_8800On Saturday, I happened to see an announcement for a Dog Body Language Seminar being offered by Twin Cities Obedience Training Club (TCOTC) in April. As an admitted dog geek, I am sure you can imagine how excited I was to hear about it. I love learning how dogs think and communicate. Understanding dog body language can be very helpful, not only as a dog owner, but for anyone who interacts with dogs on a regular basis.

I was even more excited when I realized that an old friend, Kate Anders, would be teaching the class. Kate used to be a trainer at the Minnesota Valley Humane Society (MVHS) and now runs her own dog training business, Pretty Good Dog. She was also Jasper’s trainer when he was a puppy.

It’s because of trainers like Kate that I have learned so much about dogs and dog behavior. She, Colleen and Inga (all MVHS dog trainers) made it their mission to help us volunteers better understand the dogs we were working with. They offered special training sessions for the more difficult dogs and recruited a few of us more experienced volunteers to work with them. They also offered training seminars where we could learn more about dog behavior.

One of my favorite seminars to attend was the dog body language seminar. I probably attended it three to four times during my time at MVHS. It didn’t matter how many times I had seen it before, I always learned or saw something new I could take away with me. I can’t wait to attend this seminar again.

I wish you all could come with me but since I know most of you can’t, I thought I would share two videos with you that (hopefully) will give you a small sample of what I expect to see during the seminar in April. These are much shorter than a two-hour seminar, but I think you will find them really interesting. Plus, you can watch them at your own convenience and as many times as you want!

I would love to hear your thoughts on them. Did you learn something new? Have you seen your dog(s) display similar behaviors? What behavior do you see your dog display most often in his/her interactions with other dogs?

My thanks to the Zoom Room for creating videos like these for everyone to watch.

Dog Body Language

Dog Play Gestures

Favorite Video Friday – The Negotiation (Boston Terrier vs. French Bulldog)

February 23, 2012 6 comments

I’m a big fan of Cookie and Dobby on YouTube. They are so adorable!

This video is one of my favorites. Watch as Cookie tries to convince Dobby to leave her new bed. I believe obstinate might be the word to use here.

Happy Friday everyone!

Humans: Dog Park Your Butt Here and Watch… Please

August 16, 2010 12 comments

For the past three years, I have taken my dogs to a dog park that is quite a ways from home. Why? Because it is less crowded, less well-known, and for the most part, the dog owners in this park are responsible owners. There are no toys allowed at this park (of any kind), and because it is a huge wooded area with lots of trails, I and the other owners often walk with our dogs versus just standing around (like “the other dog park” that is near my house).

Sadly, this has changed. Over the past year and a half the people from “the other” park have begun to migrate to this park; bringing along with them their toys, their cell phones, and ill-mannered pups. I try to educate a few when I see behavior that could be corrected, but I end up looking like the crabby lady or some nutcase who is “too sensitive” to some of the bad behaviors that go on there. After all, dogs can work it out themselves, right? If only!

If only I could show people that a several dogs ganging up on one dog is not play or that pinning another dog down is inappropriate play behavior THEN perhaps they would know what I am trying to tell them. Okay. So maybe I’m an idealist. But one can hope can’t they?

Then, I came across this great video. It is educational, visual (showing you appropriate and inappropriate dog play behaviors) and I think it puts it in terms that almost anyone can understand. If only I could show it at my dog park!

But, since I can’t show it at my dog park, I am doing the next best thing. Asking YOU to watch it and pass it on. Who knows? Maybe it will help you to recognize a behavior that could prevent an altercation with your dog and another. The more information we have the better dog owners we can be… right?

And, after you watch it, feel free to share your thoughts. I always welcome input, observations and comments. I learn a lot from you as well!

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