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The owner’s guide to playing dogs

When left to their own devices, dogs love to engage each other in a bout of playing. To the uninitiated owner who observes the interaction, the behavior can seem cute, odd, and even worrisome if things seem to be getting too rough. The fact is, canines enjoy this type of contact with each other and rarely does the contact get out of hand. In a way, it is a social dance they perform with one another from the time they are puppies through adulthood.

Below, we’ll explore why canines play with each other. You’ll learn about their motivations and triggers as well as the types of play in which they engage.

Understanding The Motivations

Many types of pack animals play with others within their group when they’re young. However, once they reach adulthood, they usually stop. Dogs are different. For some reason, they never lose their juvenile tendencies. Even well into adulthood, assuming they are not prevented by an illness or other health issue, canines will continue playing with one another.

Veterinarians suggest that one of the reasons canines interact in this manner is because they are rehearsing their roles as adults. For example, you might observe puppies wrestling over resources or with each other – behavior that may be necessary later in their lives. You will also see them biting or humping.

Another motivation is a simple desire to engage their mind and body. Your pooch needs mental stimulation and exercise in order to remain happy and healthy. Playing with another dog provides a perfect outlet.

Social Interaction

Just as young people must learn to interact with each other without exceeding acceptable social limits, canines must also learn proper social skills. This type of playing occurs most frequently when they are puppies. They’ll jump on one another, chewing and biting playfully. If one of the “players” goes too far (for example, bites too hard), the other will let him know. This is how they learn what is acceptable and what is not.

Sexual Interaction

When dogs play sexually, their interaction usually manifests as mounting. Studies have shown that if a pooch reaches adulthood without having had sufficient mounting experience, his initial attempts at mating can often prove unsuccessful. When there is no play partner present, dogs will mount furniture or even a person’s legs. The latter complicates the relationship between an owner and his pooch because the act of mounting is a dominant one.

Being A Predator

Canines are, by nature, predatory pack animals; certain characteristics are imprinted upon their brains. These characteristics manifest during play through chasing balls, sticks, and other objects. You’ll often see dogs jumping and pinning things that are moving only to release them before attempting to pin them again. They are sharpening their predatory skills in a playful environment.

Your dog has a playful streak that is nearly impossible to suppress. As an owner, try to provide him with an environment that gives him the opportunity to enjoy himself, build his skills, and interact with playmates.


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