(36 Posts)
Stellaris22 Tue 10-Sep-19 11:37:37

I had a lovely conversation with a new dog owner in the park today, where she has a nervous dog. She brought her dog to the park today because she wanted her dog to socialise and play with other dogs, (she had done lots of training to get to this point). We were discussing how great it is to see dogs just being dogs, they learn from each other, so they can tell other dogs off or just have a wonderful time playing, running and just being friends.

It’s wonderful that these dogs are able to recognise when they need to be gentle and distinguish that with their normal pals where they chase and do rough and tumble play.

I fully expect horrible replies to this as it seems that its the normal thing to not let dogs play or be introduced to new dogs, its just a shame because they do get huge enjoyment and social benefit from being allowed to play. Goes without saying that all dogs are under control and have responsible owners so we don’t let them run off. I just find it hard to see this lovely behaviour and playing and then constantly read posts about dogs being reprimanded for wanting to play. Dogs are social animals and I don’t like how it is normal to separate them and not allow introductons to new dogs happen.

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Windydaysuponus Tue 10-Sep-19 11:41:27

Ime allowing your ddog to have fun is being reliant on honest ddog owners!!
More than once a' just being friendly 'ddog has not been pleasant towards my lovely ddog! Makes me suspicious now and I pull her away mostly..

BiteyShark Tue 10-Sep-19 11:46:13

I prefer my dog to play with known dogs not some random dog in a park.

The main reason for that is I don't trust some owners or like their attitude of 'dogs will be dogs' or 'they just want to play' whilst letting their much bigger dog jump all over mine when it's clear he doesn't like it. That to me isn't lovely behaviour to watch.

Stellaris22 Tue 10-Sep-19 12:02:46

You aren’t going to know what new dogs and owners are like unless you let these introductions happen. It’s annoying that irresponsible owners have allowed this wariness to happen, but I would still give new dogs a chance to get to know mine before having a standard response of ‘don’t come near my dog’ which I find upsetting. I know some dogs do have issues and I fully respect this (its why I am always aware of surroundings and on the lookout for on lead dogs) but I do wonder of this increase in dogs not being able to interact with new/other dogs is linked to owners keeping their dogs apart from other dogs and not allowing dogs to just say hello.

It’s standard for me to stand back (after putting mine back on lead) and check with a new owner before letting mine say hello.

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BiteyShark Tue 10-Sep-19 13:35:43

Also be aware that I have been (due to illness and accidents) in emergency vets many times and the number of owners coming in with injuries from attacks from dogs that are 'playing' has been significant that no I won't risk my dog playing with dogs that are allowed to run up to anyone. It isn't even the cost as we are insured but the recovery time and emotional stress on everyone as I feel sorry for those owners leaving their dog to have surgery.

You have been fortunate and I hope it continues but I don't socialise with unknown people daily other than a brief hello/goodbye interaction. I take that same risk with my dog. In the dog park no way at all do I encourage 'play'. In other social settings e.g. known dogs, training, daycare etc of course I do because it's supervised and there is accountability if things go wrong.

Booboostwo Tue 10-Sep-19 13:51:34

I've been involved in dog training for a few decades. With the exception of puppy classes (and even there you get the odd owner who absolutely refuses to put their puppy on the floor for supervised training) many owners dread allowing their dogs to play. Some, with good reason, because their dogs have had a bad experience in the past, but a lot simply because they don't understand dog language. Many people are worried about dogs playing energetically, physically or noisily, while the dogs are having a whale of a time. Of course there is the odd dog which doesn't like other dogs, but for the majority of young to middle aged dogs, playing with other dogs is a lot of fun.

Spidey66 Tue 10-Sep-19 14:08:13

My dog is very sociable, and adores meeting other dogs. She has to meet and greet every dog she meets. Some she works out ain't interested in playing, but when they agree to it....well she loves it and has a whale of a time, running round and playfighting. She definitely remembers dogs she's met, I'm sure. I was worried first time I saw her playfighting but am now happy that they're enjoying it. I love seeing her happy.


Stellaris22 Tue 10-Sep-19 14:09:37

Dogs are great at communicating to each other if play is too rough, and its how they learn what is and isn’t acceptable. Mine plays very gently with a little Yorkshire terrier but when some other dogs she knows are around her play changes as she knows those dogs like the rougher play, so I 100% agree that owners don’t understand how dogs play. It can look rough, but they have tails wagging and my dog gets very excited when she sees her pals that she plays with and vice versa. It is very energetic and full on, but they love it. They can’t learn this important socialisation behaviour if they are never allowed to interact (goes without saying, under supervision at all times).

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tabulahrasa Tue 10-Sep-19 14:11:01

“I do wonder of this increase in dogs not being able to interact with new/other dogs is linked to owners keeping their dogs apart from other dogs and not allowing dogs to just say hello.”

I think it’s the exact opposite - that it’s the rise in people “socialising” by letting their dog interact with every dog that’s caused problems.

doodleygirl Tue 10-Sep-19 14:15:20

I wish with all my heart that my gorgeous girl would play with other dogs, I love seeing this. However, she just does not like to, she especially dislikes having another dog run up to her at full speed, it frightens her.

I hate the owners who dont seem to understand that my girl doesnt want to play, even though I am quite verbal in asking them to take control of their dogs, it stresses her out and makes some walks very unpleasant.

BiteyShark Tue 10-Sep-19 14:21:46

tabulah I tend to agree with you. It's very different if two owners who are watching their dogs and will jump in if things are one sided and walk away compared to the interaction I have seen when one owner is happy because they are 'socialising' their dog to the detriment of the other.

I also don't agree that dogs let others know when enough is enough. Mine is submissive and tries to run away from big bullying dogs and I notice their owners just laugh when I say it's getting out of hand and to recall their dog that has run across a field and has had no recall when asked because it's not their dog that's upsets and wants to get away. As an owner it's my responsibility to protect him from such dogs and if their owners judge me then so what as I judge them as well.

Spanielmadness Tue 10-Sep-19 14:22:42

A dog wagging its tail is not always having a good time.
A wagging tail can also indicate uncertainty/anxiety so seeing dogs running around and ‘play fighting’ with waggy tails does not always indicate they’re enjoying it.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Tue 10-Sep-19 14:31:59

I always find it immensely sad when two dogs hit it off and are having a great time together (balanced, reciprocal play etc.) and one owner calls their dog away. I always think that watching two dogs play together nicely is one of the purest pleasures of dog ownership - and it's something we as humans can't replicate.

There are a few dogs I avoid, either because I know they don't like my DDog, or because my DDog finds them a bit much (big bouncy puppies, mainly) but I think walks have always had a social element.

I'm well aware of the risks that dogs can pose to one another (lost a childhood dog to an unprovoked attack, at the most extreme end) but, like a child, I couldn't and wouldn't wrap DDog in cotton wool - he has to go and enjoy his life, and two of his greatest joys in life are arse sniffing and encouraging other dogs to chase him (along with chasing squirrels and swimming in the river!)

Scattyhattie Tue 10-Sep-19 14:33:01

Its great watching dogs play, my own like noisy biteyface, rolling & chasing.

I think problem is plenty of dogs that appear social/friendly to their owners are actually lacking in canine etiquette skills. Charge over to a new dog full on greeting, ignores its cues to back off & maybe jump all over it in attempt to initiate play.

Then you end up with dogs that were overwhelmed/ hurt/scared in these interactions becoming reactive to try keep their personal space safe. They then get deemed the problem dog.

Stellaris22 Tue 10-Sep-19 14:40:14

Agree with the charging over being unacceptable, it overwhelms dogs and puts them on their guard. Canine etiquette can only be learned through interaction with other dogs, and its something i think is just as important as training your dog in recall etc. It is the owners responsibility to recognise if their dog is playing in a way that another dog doesn’t like, however some play can look rough but its just the way the dogs enjoy playing.

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adaline Tue 10-Sep-19 14:43:13

I love watching my dog play, however you do need to be careful I think.

Mine plays with the same dogs every time - his best friend ever is a sheepdog cross about four times his size! He also has a special fondness for spaniel/setter type dogs.

However I know he's not great with terrier-types after one attacked him when he was a puppy. To terrier owners I might look unfriendly but I don't want him to get into a situation he's uncomfortable with.

I've also been told "oh, he's fine/friendly" when that's clearly not the case!

BiteyShark Tue 10-Sep-19 14:44:29

The issues isn't really with dogs. It's with their owners.

I have seen owners completely clueless when their dog is exhibiting rude behaviour. It's often mitigated if you have a confident dog that tells the dog 'off' but for me mine doesn't so I have to step in.

Equally I know my dog loves dogs that play in a similar manner e.g. he loves to play with non contact dogs and they tend to be similar breeds or cross breeds as he is a cocker. Other breeds have play styles he hates and I recognise that look he gives me that says get me out of here. Equally I had to step in when he was being too over the top with a puppy as I didn't want him to overwhelm another dog.

Jouska Tue 10-Sep-19 17:00:15

I work with dogs but would never ever ever let my dogs interact with dogs and owners that I do not know.

They do socialise a lot with colleagues dogs and I have a multi dog household so they do get interaction is they want it. However my dogs always prefer to do more things with me than other dogs. They will play but that would not be their first choice.

The risk of the numpty owners who think all dogs want to play, have no idea about dog body language and have no training or recall of their dogs is why there are so many reactive dogs today.

Of course there is the odd dog which doesn't like other dogs, but for the majority of young to middle aged dogs, playing with other dogs is a lot of fun. I totally disagree with this comment a large percentage of dogs do not want to play with other dogs.

I also think playing with other dogs is a cop out for owners that do no interact enough with their own dogs. Most dogs will prefer interaction with interesting owners and only go and mug/play with other dogs as they are not being stimulated enough

missbattenburg Tue 10-Sep-19 17:12:24

I imagine feral/street dogs to be living about as 'natural' or boundary free life as it gets for a domesticated dog and was able to observe them quite closely while living in India.

The conclusion I came to is that dogs are nowhere near as 'social' as people think they are. I hardly ever saw familier dogs (to me) interact with other dogs and, if they did, it was almost always with the same dogs each time - e.g. I'd see the same 2 dogs hanging around together for a few weeks at a time. I never saw any dog play with another dog (except young puppies) but often saw dogs play with humans and children. In fact, the single most striking thing that stood out to me was just how rarely I saw dogs together at all. They were almost always solitary.

Battendog loves playtime as much as the next dog (may be more) and I joined his walker this morning just to chat and it gave me a chance to see him with his two friends. It was lovely to see because they all know each other, had been picked to walk together and all enjoyed themseleves.

I don't allow it with strange dogs, though. Apart from anything else, it totally screws up recall if running off and playing is more fun than staying with me.

Stellaris22 Tue 10-Sep-19 17:27:18

I also think playing with other dogs is a cop out for owners that do no interact enough with their own dogs. Most dogs will prefer interaction with interesting owners and only go and mug/play with other dogs as they are not being stimulated enough

Thats an entirely unfair comment to make and very judgemental. Mine plays for about 30-45 mins with her pals, which out of 24 hours isn't very long. At home she gets lots of attention, playing and mostly takes herself off for a snooze as playing tires her out mentally as well as physically. We do also do different walks so she gets the chance to go somewhere new and get different smells, but I know she gets enjoyment from playing as I can see her starting to look out for her friends when we get close to the park.

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Stellaris22 Tue 10-Sep-19 17:28:59

A trained dog with a home and ready access to food isn't exactly the same as a feral/street dog ........

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adaline Tue 10-Sep-19 17:30:27

I also think playing with other dogs is a cop out for owners that do no interact enough with their own dogs.

I also think this is harsh and untrue in most cases.

My dog has a whole variety of walks - from runs on the beach, long rambles/sniffs in the woods, pavement/training walks, and yes, playtime!

He knows if we goes to a certain beach, we're going to meet a friend and he gets so so excited. Pulls like a train to get there, and they charge around playing and both come home exhausted.

There's a different between play organised between owners who know their dogs get on/enjoy it, and dogs rushing up to strange dogs uninvited. I think you're mostly referring to the latter. I would never let my dog rush up to an unknown dog to initiate play, but with his friends that he knows, in a safe open environment? Absolutely he gets to do that, and he loves it.

threemilesupthreemilesdown Tue 10-Sep-19 19:23:52

I'm another that doesn't let their dogs play with unknown dogs. They also live in a multi-dog household and frequently get to play with lots of known dogs owned by colleagues and training friends, so they're not missing out on anything.

I do not trust in the ability of the 'he's only being friendly' brigade to sufficiently control their dog and understand dog body language for random interactions to be safe or enjoyable.

missbattenburg Wed 11-Sep-19 08:18:50

A trained dog with a home and ready access to food isn't exactly the same as a feral/street dog

They are not as different as you might think. They do have homes - just not houses. But then many people don't either.

They also appeared to be eating enough and most seemed to have regular food - often fed by people but there is also lots of food lying about (poor rubbish laws).

Some are escaped pets and some go on to become pets. I volunteered a tiny bit with a shelter and the dogs responded to me in much the same way as any pet dog. The shelter also keeps all dogs (100+) in an enclosure all together as shelters there are very different to here. I did not spend very much time there but never saw any playing - though suspect that might be explained by high stress levels of suddenly finding themselves flung into a large enclosure with lots of strangers.

If playing with each other was an essential part of their natural repertoire of behaviour then I think they would express it on the street. They didn't appear to. They hardly interacted with each other at all. For sure some dogs enjoy playing with friends and my own is one of them, but it just doesn't seem to be an absolute need for good psychological health. I think a pet dog could have perfectly happy and fulfilling life without ever playing with another dog.

Stellaris22 Wed 11-Sep-19 11:12:36

I'm sure they could be happy, it just seems sad to deny them the opportunity to interact and play when everything I've seen is that dogs have a great time. It isn't always full on playing, they chase balls and play with their owners, but they then choose to play with each other.

I do wonder how much of the not wanting to play is something owners have trained into their dog. Dogs should be trained not to run off or rush towards a dog, that's unacceptable. However I wonder if some owners just don't like the idea of other dogs playing with theirs simply because they see their dogs as special or superior and looking down on other owners. I hope this isn't the case but it would explain a lot of attitudes on MN.

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