Dog Park Play

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Dog Park Play

Postby brittienewbie » Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:26 am

Hey guys - quick update on Bear and a dog park play question.
Bear is doing quite well, the magic mat in the kitchen is working like a charm...thanks for the idea (was it Adele?)!  Also, leash walking is going better, resource guarding is going better, last puppy kindergarten class is Monday and then in a week he starts CGC...I'm pretty sure we'll be taking it twice, but what's another 8 weeks, right?

So, on to the dog park question.  We go to the fenced in dog park nearly every day (especially now that it's quite nice in the 20s and sunny).  We mostly see the same dogs there each day, good group of dogs and people.  There are usually six dogs and four people total that we see each day (including us).  So Bear and all of the dogs get along quite swimmingly for the most part.  He learned very young how to play appropriately with adult dogs.  He even plays well with puppies, for the most part.  Here's the exception.  One of our doggie friends is a 5 or 6 month English Bull Dog.  Stella outweighs Bear by at least 5-10 pounds but he has a height advantage.  So a typical "play" encounter between them goes like this:  Bear and Stella say their hellos, butt sniffing, etc.  Stella play bows, Bear begins to play with her, Stella rolls over onto her back as soon as Bear shows any interest in her.  This is pretty boring, so Bear moves on, Stella follows, play nipping, initiating play. Bear turns to play with her, she rolls over like a turtle stuck on its shell.  Bear gets frustrated and starts to tug on her skin folds or her legs or her ears.  I ask Bear to "leave it" and he does, and Stella follows play biting, jumping etc.  All the while, Bear is vocalizing (he only growls during play with other puppies, never adults).  This is a never ending cycle.  Stella's owner says "Don't worry, Stella needs to learn, she'll cry if she doesn't like it" but yesterday I turned around and Bear had Stella by the ear while she was playing possum.  I don't want Stella to get her, but I don't want to correct Bear during play if I can avoid it.  Eventually, I pull Bear off of Stella enough that Bear tries to outrun her (in the snow this is quite successful as Stella doesn't have much ground clearance yet).

Any ideas?  Thanks!
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Re: Dog Park Play

Postby adele » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:10 pm

I have no idea. Maybe let Stella and Bear work it out? IF Bear hurts Stella then, according to everything I've read and heard, Stella should yelp and Bear should ease up. I'd only worry if Bear was being a real beast and continuing to chew on Stella if Stella was crying. I mean, if Stella doesn't mind, why should you? Sometimes dog play looks shocking to me but they seem to enjoy it.
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Re: Dog Park Play

Postby LizBot » Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:05 am

When I was in my teens, I had a Cocker Spaniel named Mackenzie, whom I adored endlessly. Through a series of terrible people's terrible choices and possible serendipity, we ended up with a 3-day-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix who had been dropped off with her litter at a vet to be euthanized by some jerk breeder who didn't keep his female secured during estres.

Anyway, as you can imagine, this retriever mix began to overtake my 20-pound Cocker in a matter of months. We named the new puppy Missy, and Missy was not very ladylike in her attempts to get my poor docile Mackenzie to play with her. All Mackenzie wanted to do was lay around and cuddle with the nearest available lap... while a 30- to 40-pound Missy was pouncing, lunging, biting, snapping, barking, yelping, whining, and generally gnawing on the older dog like she was a chew toy.

Long story short, it was about this time I realized dogs have an amazing pain tolerance and tolerance for the antics of others. Also, they tend to not care about swift, fair justice and retaliation. In our case, the offender was just not very well socialized thanks to being ripped away from her mom and littermates (though Mackenzie did a fair job at trying to fill in when Missy was very small). But eventually she did get the idea and stopped trying to eat Mackenzie.

It sounds like Bear is just trying to get Stella to play much like Missy was trying to coax my Cocker Spaniel into playing, because Stella is essentially playing submissive without ever trying to "win" instead, which is what puppies usually do. They take turns being on top or on bottom when play-fighting. I'm sure eventually Stella will get with the program and end up being the one with Bear's ear in her mouth while he looks around with a "What happened?" on his face. :)
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