What “Play” Means for Pups

May 15th, 2007 by Dan

We had another guest in the house this weekend- an 18 week old Newfoundland pup. Only 5 weeks older than Lucian, Duncan is bigger but has the same young puppy mentality, and so made a perfect playmate for Lucian. They spent all their time rolling around together and sleeping. Typical, right?
Lucian & Duncan

Lucian’s favorite social game is bitey-face (or chest, or ear, or leg…); he routinely puts our 5 year old through this activity. She is patient, but does her best to escape him most of the time. Duncan, however, was even more enthusiastic about this game than Lucian himself. They spent many quality hours playing with each other without any dominant posturing, and even shared toys peacefully!

Many dogs will bark in a playful way, either to bait another dog into playing or in the middle of play. I often hear, about a dog barking “oh, he just wants to play… .” While that may be true, we like to teach our dogs that barking is reserved for more serious situations: to alert us to possible danger, or as a guarding activity. One dog’s play bark may be another dog’s fight bark. In the middle of physical activity, there will certainly be snarls and yelps of various sorts. Those noises are harmless, as long as both dogs are engaged (watch out for bullying), and neither one gets too vocally aggressive. If you think your dog is crossing a line, just take her away from other dogs and give her a little time to calm down. Toys often provoke aggressiveness, since many dogs become possessive of their things, so remove toys while dogs are playing. We started out with all the toys put away- Duncan happened to find one under the bed, and we discovered by chance that neither puppy seemed to care who had the toy.
Lucian & Duncan
With such great company, we had a happy and tired puppy all weekend!

2 Responses to “What “Play” Means for Pups”

  1. Micah Says:

    It always makes me happy to see puppies have a good play date with other puppies. Good for everyone (including the owners who get some peace the next day!)

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