An Awesome Dog Play Day

By: David Codr

Published Date: October 25, 2015

Oct Dog Play Day

I few months ago I was hired to work with a German Shepherd named Fritz (You can read that write up here) who was so high energy he was prone to over-excitement. His guardians exercise him like crazy but it hasn’t been enough. We tried a number of things and even tested having my apprentice Tara run him every day to further wear him out.

While the extra exercise worked for a few days, the dog eventually got stronger instead of tired which almost worsened the situation.

Due to the intensity and frequency of some of the unbalanced behaviors he was showing (like chasing his tail and trying to nip, jump up or mouth his guardians when he disagreed with them), I invited him to my house to play an interact with my dogs the last few weekends..

The first time he was over, Fritz was very uncomfortable and showed he didn’t know how to properly interact with other dogs. He wasn’t aggressive, he just was socially awkward due to limited exposure and practice. He also fixated on my Border Collie / Dalmatian mix Cali is a intense pseudo-sexual way.

But this hunting / stalking activity was certainly not what we wanted so the second week I roller bladed Fritz for a mile or so first, then brought him into the back yard with my Dalmatian Farley and an owner surrender Border Terrier Im rehabilitating named Max.

The added dogs helped, but Fritz was still stalking Cali so we tried it again this weekend with a few other dogs I have worked with. I was careful to select dogs with the right energy and age. They were all puppies who were between 5-9 months.

I had arranged for the other dogs to arrive a half hour before Fritz so that they could all meet and interact to establish the right boundaries and energy before Fritz came in. I wanted to take some of the edge off of Fritz and bringing him into an already established pack of dogs was the best way to go.

At first Fritz was a little taken aback. He had his head low, ears back and he slinked away from the pack as they cam over to sniff and investigate him. For a German Shepherd who has been used to being more athletic than those around him, being surrounded by others just as athletic as he was was just what the Behaviorist ordered.

After everyone had gotten to meet him they backed away which helped Fritz collect himself. It only took a few moments and he was wandering around from dog to dog checking them out himself. The dog who is sniffed first is more subordinate.

Unlike the first and second visit, Fritz was paying attention to his surroundings. He still watched and spent time with Cali but also started to interact with the other members of the group. But as soon as he started to get too big for his britches, the pack quickly let him know that wouldn’t fly with them.

These corrections were appropriate in intensity, duration and delivered in his native language. This is feedback he was not getting from his guardians as its hard for most humans to correct a dog as well as another dog. Because I had selected balanced dogs with good energy, they were abel to teach Fritz while not taking things too far.

I wanted Fritz to learn some behaviors were not wanted, but needed that to happen without him going through a bad experience.

In addition to helping socialize Fritz, the playtime, socialization and interaction was beneficial for the puppies too. Most of them hadn’t had enough socialization either, they just didn’t have the behavioral issues Fritz has. Here is little Maya jumping up on the lounge with my apprentice Tara to gain a little height (authority) before she felt more comfortable and jumped in to run and play with both paws.

Tara and Maya

It was a beautiful day to have this doggy get together. The first hour or so was more subdued, but as the dogs got more comfortable interacting with one another, they started to run, play and have a good time.

It may seem superfluous and no big deal for these dogs to get together this way, but because they are all puppies, the experience literally shaped part of their personality and helped them become better prepared to meet, interact and even play with other dogs.

Maya and Hank were the two youngest dogs there and spent quite a bit of time playing together. We all enjoyed watching them have at it. Our friend Al was able to film a little bit of them going at it below.

While having all the other dogs play and burn off some excess energy was great, I kept my focus on Fritz for most of the afternoon and I was pleased with what I saw.

For the first hour or so he was back and forth from cautious and hesitant to playful and confident. But little by little you saw him relax. It was about 90 minutes in before he started to really play with the dogs. Instead of being chased or chasing Cali, Fritz was taking turns chasing dogs then having them chase him. Real, honest to goodness play.

As the day went on, you could see the energy being drained from the dogs. By the time their guardians were stoping by to pick them up, the dogs were really on empty.

But even when they were tired, they kept at it. When Brewtons’ guardian stopped by to pick him up, he got down to lay on the last with Maya and get in a little last minute quality time together.

Brewton and Maya 2

Well I guess I should say most of the dogs were worn out. But there was one dog in particular who hadn’t really slowed down much. Even though she probably ran and played more than any of the other dogs, California was still raring to go.

I swear she is nuclear powered.

Cali Still Ready to Play

After all the guardians had picked up their dogs, though the light I spotted something I hadn’t seen before.

A mythical creature that metamorphosed right before my eyes. I slowly got out my phone and swiped to get he camera up so I could capture an image for you all to see.

I decided to name this creature, Tara-Max.

TaraMax Parks

Thanks for reading. And remember; everything you do trains your dog, only sometimes you mean it.

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This post was written by: David Codr