Here’s a video of Willie playing with a Lily, a 4 month old female Dogo Argentino. He has just met her, and after a brief greeting by the farm house, we walked up the hill to the Orchard Pasture.
I love watching videos of dogs playing; it seems that you can see so much if you watch them repeatedly. Here are the two main events I find most notable about this episode of play (along with the fact that Willie is playing so well with her! Yeah Mr. Will, what a journey we’ve been on together!)
One, notice how Lily’s play is so often on a vertical plane. Even as a young pup, she spends a lot of energy moving upward, and trying to get on top of Will. You’ll see that especially at seconds 17, 23 and 34. There are other examples, but those are the first three that I noticed.
Secondly, notice how Willie always backs away when she gets a leg on top of him, and dashes off, trying to elicit chase/race games with her. Watch carefully at second 59, how he approaches, gets her attention and then runs away. Willie loves to play race/chase games, and it looks to me like he is trying to initiate them with her. It appears to me that Willie is specifically trying to teach her to chase. Of course, she’s small and the snow is deep for her, so there is no way she could keep up with Will, nor is that a play style that she may ever enjoy.
In addition, I suspect that his reaction to her attempts to mount is more than just trying to elicit a chase game. Willie is very uncomfortable when other dogs try to chin over, stand over or mount him. As a matter of fact, when we stopped playing up the hill and went into the house, Lily began not only to rough house with Will, but began to try even harder to get her front legs and head on top of him. Will couldn’t dash away anymore in the close quarters of the house, and his ears flattened, his eyes rounded, his commissure retracted, and he began an offensive pucker at the distal end of his lips. I immediately stepped between the two of them and asked Will if he wanted to crate up. He sped away from Lily, ran to the study and lept into his crate. Poor Will, such angst. He gets so nervous about other dogs when he can’t maintain control. He is a classic “Alpha Wanna-Bee.” He wants to be in control of everything, but is an insecure nervous wreck about doing so with an individual bigger and braver than he is.
Yesterday he played chase/race with his Doberman girlfriend Mishka, and was totally relaxed even in the house until she lept onto the couch and loomed over him. He tensed up and then ran to the study and hid behind the door. He only came out when Jim came out too, and hid behind Jim’s legs. Then we walked behind a big rocking chair, and stayed behind it until I called him to come to me. Oh Willie. He is trying to hard now to stay out of trouble, but it is so hard for him. I am so proud of him, though. (For those of you who haven’t followed the story, Willie was pathologically afraid of other dogs as a puppy, and went through a very aggressive period until we could get it turned around. He will never be a ‘dog park’ dog, but he’s done so well given who he is and what he started with.
Here’s the video: I’d love to hear what you see in it. I’ve only watched it a few times, and focused on the things I mentioned, who knows what else is going on!