How Dogs Play – PetPlace

table of contents:

  1. why do dogs play?
  2. types of ways dogs play
  3. playtime as dogs age

playing, by definition, is fun. when the game stops being fun, it stops being a game.

play is a pleasurable activity during which animals engage in behaviors that are not part of the immediate business of life, but are performed in imitation, rehearsal, or display. during the game, the dogs behave without real seriousness: they run, jump, chase, bite, chew, fight, bite, hide and even fuck. in the game, all behaviors are a game for the players and are performed for fun. there is no hidden agenda.

Reading: What do dogs play with

dogs have a unique gesture, the game bow, which indicates “game mode”. this signal involves dogs crouching down on their elbows with their rear end raised and their tail raised and wagging. during such poses, they have their “game face”, with their mouths open and their ears pricked up. they may bark to signal their desire to solicit another’s participation, and they may approach or move away from a potential playmate while hopping and jumping.

The game is usually, but not always, between two or more people. sometimes single dogs will play alone. solitaire play is a pretty sad event and can even have unintended repercussions in the long run.

why do dogs play?

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It has been suggested that play is a necessary part of growing up for all young social animals and that without it they may not develop to their full potential. this does not appear to be the case, as animals deprived of play due to illness or poor health grow up to be indistinguishable from the behavior of their play-satiated peers. This isn’t to say that “players” can’t develop faster than their private game partners, just that the end result often turns out to be more or less the same.

if the game is not absolutely essential for normal development, what good is it? well, the game is a role play rehearsal for adult behaviors and as such will prepare a youngster for what lies ahead. During play, puppies exercise their bodies and minds, making them healthier and smarter. In the wild, this can give players an advantage over their unrehearsed counterparts who may still be struggling to learn the ins and outs of dog tag or the rudiments of the chase. keep in mind that the different types of play take place in parallel with sensitive learning periods, so learning through play is more efficient. the bit is first seen at 3 weeks of age, just after the transition period. then comes the soliciting of games, the fights of games, the carelessness, the deference, and finally, the sexual game.

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All of these forms of play begin in the socialization period between 3-6 weeks of age and intensify as the puppy approaches adolescence. object play, such as chewing and chasing, occurs a little later and becomes more intense after 16 to 20 weeks of age.

types of dog games

social dog game

social skills are honed through playful interactions between individuals. one pup may jump on another pup, grab it, and then bite around the head and neck. if the pup’s bite pressure exceeds tolerable limits, the temporary underdog will turn around, scream, or run away. both sides learn an important lesson. the biter learns to inhibit his bite if he wants the fun to continue, and the pup who is bitten learns that deference or escape will put an end to the unpleasant experience.

Of course, sudden role reversal is also a feature of the game, with makeshift minions suddenly becoming pursuers and “attackers.” A happy middle ground is reached when truly dominant dogs learn their knack for dominance, and subordinates learn how to avoid or deter unpleasant exchanges. this dynamic may explain why dominant dogs are less successful than their subordinates at soliciting play. aloof puppies who don’t play much and orphaned puppies often grow up to be socially inappropriate. by repelling borders, they may send a message that is too deep, unable to inhibit their bite, and may not be able to convey compelling messages of deference.

sexual game with dogs

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This primarily takes the form of riding, hugging, and pelvic thrusting (“humping”). the lack of seriousness is indicated by the somewhat fortuitous orientation of this behavior, initially. male and female puppies are equally likely to be targeted or, in their absence, people’s legs and cushions may have to suffice. dogs that have had no riding experience will not be as immediately successful at mating as their previously tested counterparts. additionally, dogs without playmates may imprint on inanimate objects or human appendages as substrates for humping behavior, and become an embarrassment to them if not neutered. in addition, the relationship between hump and dominance must be taken into account if the correct relationship between humans and companion animals is to be preserved.

mouth play for dogs

Young puppies have a biological need to mouth and chew on malleable objects. seems to give them undue pleasure. Unlike social and sexual gaming, this type of game does not require a partner, although social proof tug-of-war games sometimes evolve as a derivative. Of course, at the time of teething, around 6 to 8 months of age, chewing on objects becomes an extremely useful adjunct to help with tooth loosening and tooth eruption, and may even provide some relief of gingival discomfort.

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predator dog game

chasing moving objects is a sure way to hone predatory skills. ball chasing, stick chasing, and leaf chasing are ways in which this form of play is expressed. With the right opportunity and guidance, pups will learn the ins and outs of the chase: how to speed up, turn on a dime, brake suddenly, and how to jump with precision and alacrity. if deprived of opportunities for predatory play, dogs may resort to pacing, circling, or tail chasing. this is a sad state of affairs.

playtime as dogs age

In many species, such as wolves, play is restricted to juveniles and adolescents. adults usually don’t have the time or energy to waste on such trivial activities. domestic dogs, however, seem endearingly suspended in a youthful mood. therefore, gambling is not something that they outgrow, but rather an activity that they pursue intensely throughout their lives. sick and unhappy dogs do not play, so the game indicates that a dog is well fed, in good health, and happy. dogs, like humans, do not play when they are sad or distressed. dogs that don’t like to play should be carefully examined to make sure everything is going well in their lives.

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