Its not about teaching older dogs new tricks, its about letting them be a dog

dogs-playingLately we have been entertaining a wonderful energetic, submissive and excitable Vizsla with our dog pack.  His owners are great that they realise that the amount of energy he has needs a release and that is why I also take on some of the load.

This pup also like many vizsla's can be shy and if not exposed regularly to social dogs in the park can either become even more shy and anxious or at least indifferent. I have not seen that many aggressive vizsla  dogs, but anything is possible if you don't socialise any breed regularly.

This vizsla usually lies down hiding in the car on the way to the park, submissive to the point of almost paralysis.  At the park he identifies the puppies or fast running dogs and runs to them, and often falls over straight away.

With smaller dogs this dog chooses submissive licking of the dogs face until the dog is forced to react back - preferably playing. Its amazing how this dog has already developed a play strategy that incorporates its shyness while still getting its need for play established.

He is going through a critical stage in working out which dogs are safe to play with like this. He is taking a little longer each month to work out what dogs he can safely create this play game with.  Sometimes he will give up and follow what the pack is doing which usually is sniffing the ground and exploring scents, but when we have a play stop, he will find the most likely play target and be persistent.

What has a puppy play got to do with an older dog?

All that I have mentioned before is usually acted on puppies or fast running dogs, but when these are scarce my eight year old spoodle takes the brunt of the play attempts. The vizsla knows that my dog is so social that he is in no danger of whatever he does, unless it is an actual attack. He knows that he can keep licking until my dog has refused to the point that he has to play challenge back.

My dog then goes into teacher mode with this young much bigger pup, puppy mouthing them, running alongside them and trying to beef himself up to seem like a big enough threat that the vizsla pup gives up or at least goes into lying down submissive mode.

In videos I make sure I show the puppy forcing the start of the play, before my dog is forced to play hard and gain control back of the interaction. Otherwise to the uninitiated it might look like my dog initiated and wants a fight.  That impression is mostly because of the loud barking and puppy mouthing. But what I wanted to make the point of, is that this play is ideal for both dogs. Both are social, both need exercise and now they have a perfect (non harming) play partner. They can play hard without getting hurt.

This kind of play also reinforces the bond between the dogs, and between the pack. It adds excitement and there total enjoyment of the park. I don't recommend this every park visit for a middle aged dog, but it definitely sparks both dogs up when it does happen.


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