Mounting By Any Other Name…

nellie window

A long, long time ago I had an intact male Border Collie (my first BC ever, Drift), who appeared to be failing his job as a stud dog. Although his escort, the lovely Tib, could not have been more clear that she was ready to be bred, Drift couldn't seem to get the job done. Tib would prance around Drift all shiny-eyed, literally throw her rump in his face and flag her tail so far over to the side that I wondered if it might break off. Drift behaved as though he got the message loud and clear, and would enthusiastically mount Tib from behind. But then he would make one or two thrusts, and his entire body would appear to deflate (not to mention his equipment) while he slumped off to the side. Tib would respond by again throwing her rump at his head and flagging (the clarity of a female dog's Read More

How Do You Play with Your Dog?

fence posts snow 2-2013

Surely our mutual love of play is one of the reasons that dogs and people get along so well. As Karen London and I write in Play Together, Stay Together, "Play is powerful stuff. It influences so many things, including development, motivation, emotions, physiology, communication and behavior. Wow! That's an impressive list." After years working as Applied Behaviorists, it was clear to Karen and I that play has the power to strengthen one's relationship with a dog, or alternatively, to destroy it. You can use play to teach self control and good manners, or to inadvertently teach a lack of frustration tolerance and a lot of rude behavior that ends up getting a dog into trouble. You can use play to allow a dog to release tension, to learn a behavior incompatible with a problematic one, or Read More

Play Bows as Meta-Communication

snow early winter 2012

We all know the signs of imminent danger between two dogs right? Immobile stiff bodies, direct eye contact, round eyes. Except when dogs are playing and then the exact same postures and expressions are nothing but pauses between frolics. That is a perfect example of what's called meta-communication, or communication about communication. Here's a video of Willie and his new friend, Leo--the new pup of Katie Martz here at the office--illustrating meta-communication as well as any two dogs could. I look forward to your comments about it. First, some background: Yesterday they met for the first time, and it went beautifully. Katie stood 40 feet from the door with Leo as I let Willie out and asked him "Where's the Dog?" We played tug when he looked at Leo and then back at me. After 2 Read More

What’s Happening Here? Here is the Answer!

tucker and lily (1)

On Friday I asked you what you thought was going on here, at least as best one could tell from a still photograph. I'm the first to agree it's hard to say much from one brief moment in time, but it's a great exercise nonetheless. It helps us all focus our attention and generate hypothesis about what might happen next. It would be perfectly reasonable to suggest several different scenarios... Here's the story in this case: These two dogs are great friends and play together often. The yellow dog is a 4 yr old GR/Husky cross, Tucker, who has a tendency to nip faces when he plays. The white dog in the red coat is Lily, a 2.5 yr old spayed female Dogo Argentino, owned by Katie MartzĀ  here at McC Publishing. Lily was responding to what appeared to be an inappropriate play action from Read More

A Picture’s Worth a 1,000 Words?

lilytuckerplay

Maybe not a 1,000 in this case, but what words would you put with this photo? What do you think is going on here? I'd love to hear what you all think. I know the dogs, the context and what happened before and after, so after I collect your input I'll let you in on the story. This might be a fun exercise for us to play every once in a while, yes? Let me know if you like the idea. I'll write another post on Monday and describe the dogs, their relationship and what happened immediately after the photo was taken. But before that I'd love to hear how you evaluate what you are seeing. And no fair cheating if you saw this on Facebook last week! It's just such a great photo I couldn't resist putting it out here. So... what's going on here between these two dogs? What are the most likely Read More