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Hi I’m Victoria Schade for Petside.com. You know going to a dog park is a great way to socialize and exercise your dog but it’s really important to know exactly what’s going on out there. Some behaviors that look like inappropriate play are actually just part of the game. While other behaviors that look harmless could tip over into something not so good. Let’s take a look at some examples.
The play bow is a universal invitation to interact. It usually starts with the dog’s chest on the ground and his bum in the air. Body posture’s really loose and waggy, and always very very silly. The play bow might include little hops from side to side or sometimes barking to encourage the other dog to play along. The other dog might respond with his own play bow or if he prefers to be chased he might just take off running and hope the other dog chases along.
Obviously dogs have different play styles and chase is a really popular game at the dog park. Ideally this happens between a chaser and a chasee. Now you want to make sure that the game is fun for both players. There should be pauses and sometimes role switching as the game continues. Also keep in mind the size of the dogs playing. You wouldn’t want a giant dog chasing after a little fluffy dog because that behavior could tip over into predatory drift which is when a play behavior almost becomes like a hunting or stalking behavior. Barking is a typical side effect of exuberant dog play, but extensive barking is a dog park no-no. Not only is it rude to bark at your playmates, most dog parks have a rule posted that prohibit excessing barking.
Most people get upset when they see their dog involved in neck biting, but what looks like a really hardcore behavior is usually an acceptable form of play. Yes there will be growling and vocalization, it is a loud and noisy kind of game, you want to make sure – as always – that both parties are enjoying the game and that there’s give and take between them. If one of the dog squeals and tries to get away and the other dog doesn’t let up, it’s time to end the game.
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Going to the dog park is a great way to socialize and exercise your dog, but it’s important to know exactly what’s going on. Some dog body language that looks threatening is actually playful, while some that seems harmless could lead to trouble. Watch this video to find out about behaviors like the play bow, chase, predatory drift, excessive barking, and neck biting, and learn what’s acceptable dog park behavior.
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