COMPLETE PUPPY CARE is now available for your puppy-licious reading pleasure. I’ve included a brief excerpt below about how to tell when GOOD puppy play tips over into DANGEROUS games. That’s just the tip of the furry info, though. Please share the news about this book with all your puppy and dog loving peeps.
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COMPLETE PUPPY CARE includes more than two-dozen SQUEEE! cute puppy pictures (including Magical-Dawg as a baby), plus all the puppy must-knows. Those who subscribe to my PET PEEVES newsletter (click here & get another book free!) got the news early–and TEN folks won a free copy in exchange for posting an honest review. I’m nervously nail-biting until those get posted!
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ABOUT COMPLETE PUPPY CARE…
Nothing beats a cute puppy for love, but proper puppy care and training prepares you and your new dog for a healthy and long life together. This up to date new guide provides a “Puppies 101” packed with veterinary facts, health care advice, how-to tips, and fascinating information about:
- Choosing, training and communicating with your new puppy
- Pros and cons of purebred versus shelter/rescue sources
- Understanding common behavior problems and how to prevent them
- Food, grooming and humane training recommendations
- Tips for introducing your puppy to adult dogs, cats, babies and kids
- The latest veterinary recommendations for preventive care
- How to recognizing common health issues, and what to do
- First aid and home remedies that save you money—and your puppy’s life!
- More than two-dozen SQUEE! cute puppy pictures
- Canine legends, myths and fun puppy facts including: Why puppies drink from the toilet, why dogs act guilty, reasons dogs hump your leg, and more!
COMPLETE PUPPY CARE empowers you with all the information necessary for your puppy to grow up into the happy, healthy dog you both deserve.
“Just Kidding” During Play
Dogs use exaggerated behaviors, called meta signals, to tell other dogs all action that comes after is not serious but a game. For instance, the play-bow is a butt-in-the-air with front-end down position where the pup’s forelegs dance back and forth to invite play. When your puppy first play-bows, he’s
telling you that any growls or wrestling that comes after are meant as fun and games.
Adult dogs often “pretend” to be subordinate to a puppy—with play bows or rolling on the back—to build up the pup’s confidence and invite him to play. This “just kidding” game allows lower-ranking pups to practice being in charge with play bites, mounting behavior, and wrestling games. Once the
play is over, the higher-ranking dog again assumes his more “mature” behavior that tells the pup to respect his leadership.
BAD VS GOOD PLAY—KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE
Dogs of all ages enjoy playing. Behaviors for fighting and fun are similar, but you must know how to tell the difference between aggression and play-acting. Watch for “meta signals” which tells participants that whatever comes after is meant in a “play” context.
Dogs commonly drop toys on your feet or lap to solicit a game, and offer toys to other dogs in the same way. A play bow—the dog sticks his butt and tail into the air, and bows forward on lowered forelegs that dance side to side—is the classic signal and invitation for the games to begin. Often, the
“fighting” behaviors seen during such games will be exaggerated to indicate play, or the “fight” behavior sequences may be jumbled.
Play includes inhibited mouth-open bites often aimed at the legs and paws of other dogs. Dogs also paw and bat each other without force to hurt. In appropriate play, all the dogs willingly participate. If you suspect one of the dogs doesn’t like the activity (one dog repeatedly tries to escape or hide),
gently separate the pair to see if they go back for more. If the play session was too rough, one will sneak away.
Inappropriate play results in one or more dog frightened, hurt, or overwhelmed. Bully dogs always end up on top, while in appropriate play you’ll see dogs take turns chasing and pinning each other during wrestling. Mouthing aimed primarily at the head or neck, or uninhibited bites means play has gotten out of hand. You’ll hear yelps from the bitten dog.
Consistent play up on hind legs may indicate problems. Ongoing mounting, clasping and thrusting also can lead to problems, as can resting of paws, heads or whole bodies across other dog’s shoulders to intimidate or achieve social status.
Growls don’t usually indicate problems, but play can be so exciting that the action escalates into aggression. Listen for louder, lower pitched growls,and be prepared to break up the session before they get too aroused.
Okay now, what about YOUR puppies and dogs? How do they play? Is it polite, taking turns, or is there some bully behavior involved? At my house, Magical-Dawg’s best play buddy is Karma-Kat and that involves a whole new set of signals.
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!