Dog to Dog Play What You Need to Know

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You need to know that not all dogs like to play with other dogs. Some dogs prefer humans, some dogs prefer cats and the preferences could go on and on.  With dog parks, dog cafe’s, dog play groups, dog pool parties, dog hiking clubs it has been ingrained in us that dogs are social animals but I’m here to tell you that dogs are just like us.  Some of us love hanging out with a large group of friends while others of us prefer to be in solitude.  Not all dogs like to play with other dogs, and not all dogs are pack animals.  As a dog owner get to know your dog and their preferences.  You are not doing your dog an injustice by not taking them to the dog park, if your dog is happier exploring the neighborhood on walks with just you, listen to your dog.

For those dogs that love to play and play and play with other dogs here are some things to keep in mind:

Dogs do not play silently.  They are noisy and sometimes it can sound like they are fighting. Familiarize yourself with dog to dog play by watching dogs play at a local dog park.  If both dogs are actively participating and no one is getting hurt then this is just dogs being dogs.

Dogs will hump each other occasionally and this can mean many things.  It does not just mean that one dog is trying to dominate or mate with the other dog.

Dogs pin each other on the ground while playing and bite at necks.  As long as both dogs are being pinned at one time or another they are generally fine.  However, if one dog is always on the bottom it is time to break it up.  Generally, the dog on the bottom is being bullied and not having a good time.

Dogs chase each other.  Some dogs like to chase and others like to be chased.  Watch body language if your dogs body is moving fluently and the mouth is open this generally means they are happy.  If the dog being chased has a stiff body, tail between the legs then move in quickly this dog is being bullied and needs to be removed from the situation.

If you are interested in learning more about dog body language I do offer sessions at dog parks for owners and their dogs where I break down the behaviors of your dog and other people’s dog so you too can speak dog.  Also, check out Nicole Wilde’s Dissecting the Dynamics of Dog-Dog Play for an in depth look at dog play and communication.

Adventures in Costa Rica

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This Summer my family and I vacationed to Costa Rica. In Costa Rica there are many, many street dogs.  Some are taken care of by the villagers some are not.  By street dogs I mean mixed breed dogs that roam free.  My 10 year old daughter who knows my Be A Tree presentation by heart was unsure of what to do when approached by these off leash dogs. These dogs either sought human attention or were on their own missions and ignored the humans. We threw Be a Tree out the window and went with reading the universal language of dogs (I at least spoke that language, my Spanish could improve however). One particular dog I will call him Spider after the crab. As we walked along the beach looking for turtles he joined us but he was not there for us, he had a job. Spider was sniffing out crabs. After many failed attempts to dig one up, success! Spider got a big crab and the fight began. The crab snapped his claws at Spider, spider showed him his teeth and got nipped on the nose. They danced Spider showing teeth and the crab clicking his claws and occasionally getting Spiders nose. This dance continued for a good 5 minutes and then Spider moved on and the crab returned to the sea, I got the feeling that this was a daily routine for Spider, he seemed to enjoy playing with the crab and had no intention of eating it.  So the lessons from this story: street dogs still speak dog, don’t play with crabs, and most importantly my husband asked me since Be A Tree works so well for dogs what works for crocodiles, my response Be A Log since the Caimans are always lounging on logs I figured the crocodiles would do the same.

A side note: Some of the villages in Costa Rica with street dogs tended to take care of them, however this was not universal.  Some of  these dogs were malnourished, injured, and often ignored.  Upon further investigation I discovered Adopt a Street Dog From Costa Rica, Inc. which is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization based in Berkeley California.  This wonderful organization places Costa Rica’s street dogs in loving homes in the USA.  They estimate that there are about a million street dogs in Costa Rica.  For more information about adopting or to donate check out their Facebook page.